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.
Ed Spigott is a cannabis retail store owner, general manager, fifth-generation rancher, and father in Outlook, Saskatchewan.
What is your store and where is it located?
One Eye’s Weedery in Outlook, Saskatchewan.
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
We first entered the industry with our store in 2020 because of a shared passion for the plant. I and my father went into business together. I am the day-to-day operations guy, and my father, who is in the twilight stage of his career, brings wisdom and the big picture. Working with family is very lovely and there are lots of wins, but sometimes it’s a grind.
My father, Brian, is the man with the ZZ Top beard and a joint in hand. Born in 1952 meant he was 18 in 1970 and “it was all sex drugs, and rock n’ roll back then.” I have had a relationship with it since my 20s. We both still enjoy cannabis and have found it to be a benefit in our daily lives.
How has your relationship with cannabis and the industry changed since opening your store?
We still feel the stigma that was quite prominent before legalization, but I am continually surprised and humbled by the individuals coming through the door – looking to try and looking to experiment – who are genuinely curious about this plant and what it might do for them. Many have had no experience with cannabis in their entire life.
The communities in West Central Saskatchewan in which we operate have been extremely supportive. Something we were concerned about at the start, but year by year we are seen as an integral part of the community providing a service to the public in a safe and responsible manner.
You mentioned you’re a fifth-generation rancher. Do you see parallels between ranching and the cannabis industry?
Like any business owner, you need to be responsible. That’s number one. Like ranching, cannabis cultivators need to treat their land and crops with respect, otherwise, you won’t get the yields you want. This is one of the reasons we’re members of the Weed Pool – the Co-op works with craft cannabis farmers who respect the plant. I also see parallels between ranching and cannabis retail, in the sense that both need to align with suppliers and customers who also support their local communities.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing the cannabis industry right now?
Cash flow and a lack of typical financial tools that are normally available to 99.9% of businesses out there, are not available to us in the cannabis industry. That puts a strain on the industry. We can’t get credit cards or lines of credit. Even operating a bank account is difficult due to the extreme scrutiny. Some businesses in this industry have gone to private lenders, but that carries a higher cost and puts additional stress on the business.
In addition to finance, the industry is subject to the demands of the market just like other commodities. The demand for cannabis is still growing, but there is an oversupply of producers and retailers. I expect there to be further losses, closures, and mergers as the market matures.
The essence of cannabis can be maintained while still respecting the demands of the market. The Weed Pool, from my perspective, does a good job of balancing and working with partners that respect the culture and commitment to product quality, while also being cognizant of inherent market forces.
“The essence of cannabis can be maintained while still respecting the demands of the market. The Weed Pool, from my perspective, does a good job of balancing and working with partners that respect the culture and commitment to product quality, while also being cognizant of inherent market forces.”
What is the greatest piece of advice you have been given? In general, or in the cannabis industry specifically.
Go out and network. All of the opportunity that has come to us in this space has come from networking with likeminded people. Be open to new adventures and possibilities.
Why did you first join Weed Pool and what has kept you involved?
We’ve been members since the inception of our store. Weed Pool makes ordering very easy. It’s like outsourcing the administrative tasks of ordering to an external service, and there are more products available to us through the Co-op than we could possibly carry.
I also became involved at Weed Pool’s board level. It feels like we started as a scrappy, young start-up and now we’re in our teenage years. Going forward, we’re expanding this model nationally to strengthen all players in the cannabis industry. It’s fun to be a part of this movement.
How has the Weed Pool helped your business succeed?
Collaboration with other stores is a massive benefit – Weed Pool feels like family. Me or my staff can jump onto the Co-op’s rapid communications channel to learn about and compare new products, what works and what doesn’t, celebrate successes, and learn from each other’s mistakes in a supportive, inclusive environment.
What do you believe is your biggest competitive advantage as an independently-owned business?
Our biggest advantage is that we’re here; we live in the community we operate in. We can address challenges that are right in front of us. I think as a fifth-generation rancher in our community, people know and trust us. If it was a franchise store operating the local cannabis store instead of us, I don’t think they would have the same level of embracement.
What’s your favourite product right now? Please tell me the brand and product name and why.
Gas Station – Platinum Cake. It’s a heavy hitter and helps me relax at the end of the day. Buy it now at One Eye’s Weedery.