Burb wants to bring a "big city" experience to the region's suburbs—and a more luxurious, comfortable one at that.
It’s easy to mistake Burb’s recently opened Port Coquitlam flagship for the location of a certain Vancouver-founded and -based womenswear boutique. All the signs are there: an open, airy, high-ceilinged concept coated in a calming palette of beige and brown; lush, thriving greenery tucked into various nooks and crannies; and a curated assortment of handmade decor and plush leather furnishings that make the space feel more like a chic NYC apartment than a transaction-driven retailer.
The familiarity makes sense: Burb’s flagship was dreamed up by local interior designer Jennifer Dunn, who’s worked on various Aritzia and Saje stores around town, and she was enlisted by Burb’s founders to craft the same warm, welcoming vibe that those stores convey. That “welcoming” part is especially important given that Burb’s primary business is cannabis—and traditional head shops and cannabis stores in the region don’t offer the most pleasant of shopping experiences, says Clayton Chessa, one of three cofounders of Burb.
“There are head shops, where you see bright lights, glass, mirrors—and you feel like you’re in this matrix—or cannabis stores, which a lot of people say they don’t feel safe in, they don’t feel comfortable in,” Chessa explains. “So we’re trying to make everyone comfortable, whether that be an elderly woman who grew up in the reefer madness days and has all these preconceived notions about cannabis or your O.G. stoner who’s been smoking for the last 20 years.”
Burb’s mission is to deliver a “big-city” cannabis experience to Metro Vancouver’s suburbs (hence Burb’s name), so that concept of comfort moves beyond Burb’s interiors and into its product offerings: ceramic bongs and minimalist, pastel-hued pipes; artful ashtrays, lighters and toxin- and additive-free pre-rolled joints crafted from organically grown Coromandel ebony leaves. And then there’s the bud bar, where, in the coming months, shoppers will be able to browse a curated selection of high-quality strains.
“A lot of existing stores are generally overwhelming for people,” says Chessa. “We’re trying to de-overwhelm the experience and make things more approachable.”
As Burb awaits the arrival of federally approved cannabis to its flagship, the brand will offer its in-house line of luxury, made-in-Canada streetwear: another part of Burb's business designed to make the cannabis experience more welcoming for new and seasoned cannabis users alike. The collection, which is the first thing one sees upon entering the Burb flagship, includes French-terry-cotton hoodies, longsleeves and accessories (from $50), some of which is equipped with cannabis-oriented conveniences like removable smell-proof pouches for roaches. All of it is washed in subdued, earthy tones of tan—not unlike those seen in Kanye West’s Coachella “church clothes” or Justin Bieber’s debut Drew House line.
“It’s a way for us to bring a more cultured aspect to the brand,” Chessa says of the collection. “You can do a lot with apparel with respect to emotions and how it makes people feel.”
Burb has plans to open a second location—a smaller “express concept”—in neighbouring Coquitlam in the near future, as well as locations in other Metro Vancouver suburbs. (It chose Port Coquitlam for its flagship spot because cofounders John Kaye and Steve Dowsley are from there.) An expansion into the city of Vancouver isn’t out of the question either. “It’s just a matter of timing and when that makes sense,” says Chessa.
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