Four20 Premium Market is an inspired cannabis retailer, reimagined for the modern consumer. With four stores currently operating in Calgary, Ryan Kaye, vice president of operations, says that their success is rooted in open communication with regulators, the warm and inviting design of their stores, a focus on customer education, and continual investment in their staff.
Communication is Key
Kaye and his team knew that one of the keys to being ready for legalization was to get into the game as early as possible. “We were diligent in monitoring how the rules were developing, and met regularly with the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) team as part of the consultation process,” he says. “They were incredibly gracious and invited more feedback. In fact, we know that there were a few things that we discussed with them that had a direct impact on the final regulations. Ultimately, it was a wonderful collaborative learning experience working with government.”
While some say that Canada remains in a period of overregulation, Kaye maintains an enlightened approach. He explains, “No matter how far the AGLC went with their regulations, there was always going to be a section of our society that would say they didn’t go far enough. It’s a personal journey for everyone involved, retailers and customers alike. But we’ll continue to move forward with the knowledge that there will soon be a leveling out of how cannabis will be regulated.”
Gone with Green
The elevated customer experience at Four20 Premium Market starts with the welcoming design of the stores. The large, bright, open concept stores feature all-natural elements such as rich hardwood floors, exposed brick walls, and polished stone counters, which offer a warm and inviting feeling. “We stayed away from the traditional ‘green’ stereotypes. We tried to focus on what would really engage a broad demographic,” Kaye says.
“Our customers are responding with enthusiasm and excitement when they enter any one of our stores,” shares Kaye. “Cannabis has always been something that can bring people together, and we celebrate that culture of sharing and unity. It’s something that you can see within all of the people that visit our stores. It’s very unique.”
Education is absolutely key for the Four20 Premium Market team. “We want to change the way people think and feel about cannabis, helping them to realize that it is a fully interactive experience. People are reacquainting themselves with cannabis, even those that have smoked cannabis for 20 years and thought they knew everything about the plant. We’re helping people to rediscover and refresh the idea of the experience.”
Customers are invited to browse the stores’ digital menus that feature complete descriptions for each product. Knowledgeable sales staff are always on hand to answer any customer questions. Additional information is also on display at the Bud Bar, where individual dried flower buds are sealed in see-through smell jars for closer inspection.
Selecting the Right Staff
Kaye and his team knew from the get-go that the most important part of Four20 Premium Market’s success would be in selecting the right staff.
“When we want to hire new staff members, we look at people who are enthusiastic and have a willingness to learn,” enthuses Kaye.
“Research is expanding and being revised all the time, so it’s much easier to work with someone who has a passion for learning, versus someone who may carry a lot of misinformation. We invest in a full week of cannabis training that includes everything about the active ingredients in the plants, history, regulations, accessories, delivery methods, and more.”
Strong retailers know that it’s about finding people with a positive attitude, giving them the right knowledge, and letting them go. “It’s also about keeping them in the feedback loop,” Kaye explains. “We encourage them to share the conversations that they have with customers so that our management team can prepare the correct answers that benefit everyone the most.”
2019 and Beyond
Four20 Premium Market presently operates four stores in Calgary, with two fully built-out locations awaiting final licensing approval from the AGLC, in Brooks and Canmore. The company also has plans for multiple new locations across Alberta, including Edmonton, Red Deer, Lethbridge, and Medicine Hat.
“Besides opening more locations in Alberta, we’re keeping a close eye on what’s happening in BC and Ontario, both of which are interesting to us,” Kaye reveals. “They each have large population bases, and we are experienced in working collaboratively with government to create large, welcoming stores that people enjoy visiting. We build big and we do it well.”