Caity O’Neill of High Supply Cannabis in Kelvington, SK is Proudly Independent.
Our new member interview series highlights independent retailers who found themselves priced out of the marketplace by monolithic corporations. Determined not to give up, we’ve pooled our resources and gained the leverage needed to negotiate a fair price and equal opportunity to compete in the marketplace.
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
Aside from personal use, my first entry into the cannabis industry was in 2022 with the opening of our store on April 20, 2022. We saw a need for more locally-owned stores to serve our largely rural area. We serve a big geographic area with many lakes and small towns.
How has your relationship with cannabis and the industry changed since opening your store?
It [cannabis] was taboo for so long, especially for someone who had been using it prior to legalization. For me, it was kind of ‘yeah, we do it, but we’re quiet about it.’ Once we got into the store and started working with others in the industry, I became so open and proud about it. Cannabis is one of the only things I talk about anymore!
It’s nice to be able to openly explain to customers that this is life; cannabis is a legitimate industry. My relationship with cannabis has definitely changed in that regard – being open and expressive about it.
What has been your biggest challenge when working with cannabis companies?
The biggest challenge we have faced is not necessarily financing, but banking. We were lucky that our local bank was easy to deal with, but there are still so many limitations. For example, larger orders are almost impossible as it takes four days to split up the payments because they only allow so much.
In terms of working within the industry, dealing with large distributors was the biggest challenge. It seemed like we just weren’t big enough for them – at the lower end, the last on their list to receive any updates or communications.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing the cannabis industry right now?
I think the biggest challenge is probably that there are still so many regulations and guidelines. Those types of things really cast a shadow on cannabis – especially when comparing it to the alcohol industry. Having all the limitations and rules such as frosted glass and no advertising and all these things make cannabis seem so shady and so taboo. In my mind, this is hurting the industry.
We should be able to be loud and proud about it and explain its benefits. Unfortunately, this has resulted in many customers feeling like they’re doing something wrong; like they shouldn’t be here [at High Supply].
What is the greatest piece of advice you have been given? In general or in the cannabis industry specifically.
Just ‘go for it.’ We are in a really small town; we have about 1,000 people here. Opening a cannabis store was a big hurdle for us. Getting the community’s acceptance of our business idea was probably one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced. Trying something is better than not trying at all.
Why did you first join Weed Pool and what has kept you involved?
I joined the Weed Pool in April 2022. They were one of the first cannabis organizations that appeared on Google and in the news. I was then talking with POS suppliers who had knowledge of Weed Pool.
Weed Pool seems more like a family than anything. One of the greatest things I found is how helpful Weed Pool was when we were first starting out and continue to be today. They answer my questions, whether or not it’s related to products. They are always available to help.
How has the Weed Pool helped your business succeed?
Weed Pool lends out support where it’s needed or where it might not even be needed. They have offered to help with things like merchandise and clothing – things the Weed Pool doesn’t sell. I am still new to this industry, so I have a lot of questions. Questions are answered immediately and support is unparalleled. For example, we had some issues with our banking limitations and Weed Pool was willing to do whatever it took to get our products to us as fast as possible. It’s nice to feel like we’re a priority in such a big, booming industry.
What do you believe is your biggest competitive advantage as an independently-owned business?
The public knows we’re all trying to shop local and support the local economy, especially with everything going on in the world this year. By maintaining that we’re small, we’re local, we’re not corporate, and we’re not trying to take over or push anyone out, we’re able to offer customers a community-minded experience and peace of mind with each purchase. The public knows this because we hear it from customers every day.
What’s your favourite product right now? Please tell me the brand and product name and why.
THC hash hot chocolate by Malahat Mountain Cannabis Co. I think this should be on everyone’s holiday shopping list this year. Buy it from High Supply here.