Wholesome, inclusive, and down-to-earth, Saskatoon’s Pot Shack aims to welcome cannabis consumers from all walks of life. Focusing on craft and organic options, the store’s extensive menu can be found in leather-bound books on rustic wooden tables in the 900 sq. ft. showroom.
“We created a relaxing feel, like a family cabin, a hut on a lake, or maybe Grandma’s house,” says owner Geoff Conn. “It’s a place where our guests can come and enjoy a relaxing vibe.”
Design touches include wainscoting made by a local craftsman who recycled 100-year-old Saskatchewan barn wood to create this feature. Other elements include a wood stove, antiques, rustic tables, and brick wall highlights that create a welcoming, rustic aesthetic.
The Pot Shack operates as an independent cannabis store in the province. Since opening in fall 2018, Conn has built up relationships with growers by buying direct. “We offer the most diversified product selection in the city,” he says. “We typically have four pages of flower on the menu (50+ strains) ranging for $7 per gram to $24 per gram. Our relationships are with the individual growers. At the end of the day, it’s their products that keep our guests happy. We have an amazing variety of choices. We are the only store in Saskatoon that offers Whistler Cannabis Company products: Whistler is considered one of the best growers in the country and is the only organic certified cannabis in Canada. Their product smokes like a fine cigar and sits at the higher end of our price points. These products may not be for everybody, but the choice is theirs.” In addition to buying direct from licensed producers, The Pot Shack is a member of Saskatchewan’s Weed Pool Cannabis Cooperative, which is working to have greater purchasing power.
Being part of the community is important for the team at The Pot Shack. “We are surrounded by great businesses—there is a Keg Restaurant in front of us and at the back is the largest destination CO-OP liquor store in the province,” describes Conn, when asked what the store’s key advantage is. “Beside us we have Jerry’s, and everyone in Saskatoon knows how to get to Jerry’s. The Pot Shack can be seen driving in either direction on 8th Street, which is the busiest street in Saskatoon.” The Pot Shack caters to customers from various demographics by altering the in-store experience throughout the day. Curious retirees finish their coffee at Jerry’s and visit earlier in the day to look for CBD products, and then the atmosphere is adjusted to cater to different demographics as the day moves to night. The Pot Shack has a great vibe on Friday afternoons to herald in the weekend. Everything is designed to welcome the community and make them feel at home.
The Pot Shack has a great vibe on Friday afternoons to herald in the weekend.
Since opening, the store has gone through some changes with glass tabletops installed so customers can view the products and make a visual assessment of quality. Favouring this over sniff jars, as they can be harder to keep fresh, Conn and his team are on-hand to offer advice to buyers who are looking for specific types of products. While the original push came from customers looking for high-THC products, increasingly there are more people interested in coming back to learn more about terpenes and how these aromatic compounds can affect their experience.
This personal approach is what helps set the Pot Shack apart—when products ship or are picked up from the store (via the e-commerce option) each one bears the stamp of the staff person who put it together. Customers who come into the store are greeted at the door to be taken through the ID process and then directed to the tables to peruse the menu of flowers and oils, or they go directly to the till to get the product and more information.
Conn has great respect for Store Manager RJ Fafard. In addition to having award-winning retail experience, Fafard is also an old high-school buddy of Conn’s. The pair met at Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Saskatchewan over 40 years ago. “Our goal is to create an incredible customer experience,” says Conn. “We can proudly state that our store manager RJ is the best in the industry. The people he has selected to round out our sales and education team is exceptional. Our staff is awesome! Training is continuous, as we work with each of the growers and their educational teams to ensure we stay up to date. We know that our staff is the key to our success. If we treat them well then they will treat customers well.”