“Our litmus test was: can you bring your mom here?” explains Andrew Gordon, senior VP of Kiaro Cannabis. He’s gesturing around the new Kingsway location, finally given the governmental thumbs-up to open after sitting, ready and waiting, for almost a year.
The fact that there are moms milling around the airy, Scandi-modern space is a good sign that the pot shop has achieved its goal. Though the windows are frosted as per city regulations, giving it an unfortunately illicit vibe from the sidewalk, inside it basically feels like a Matchstick coffee shop. “It’s about more than getting high,” says Gordon. “We want to create an opportunity for a common understanding."
Even though we’re almost a year into legalization, a stigma hangs over the industry still like (sorry) smoke. But accessible, welcoming and beautiful retail spaces like this are a valuable part of shifting the perception of cannabis from drug to wellness product.
Photo by Carey Shaw Photo by Carey Shaw
Photo by Carey Shaw
Photo by Carey Shaw
Though they’re the new kid on this particular block, Kiaro’s first locations were actually in Saskatchewan (find shops in Saskatoon and La Ronge [population 2,688]), where licensing was distributed via lottery. Now, the brand is finally opening an outlet in the same postal code as its head office. The Vancouver flagship features the same focus on education as the Saskatchewan originals—in the white-and-wood room, you’ll find terpene scent stations, magnifying viewers to examine buds up close and touch-screen guides that simplify the shopping process for newbies. (How do you want to feel? What kind of flavours do you like?)
Walls lined with sleek modern vapes and pretty pipes—like a locally made pink crystal number from Ohai—are a far cry from your smoke shop of yore… just how Gordon (and many a mom) like it.
1316 Kingsway, Vancouver
Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
Photo by Carey ShawPhoto by Carey ShawPhoto by Carey Shaw