Jordi Mikeli-Jones and Jeremy Jones are no strangers to adversity; the Whitehorse based husband-wife business duo are responsible for establishing the first privately owned licenced cannabis retail store in the Yukon, an accomplishment that took years of navigating bureaucratic red tape, overcoming legislative obstacles, and paving the way for new policies–a painstaking process at the best of times.
Triple J’s Canna Space successfully opened its doors in April 2019, and Jordi and Jeremy achieved their goal of setting a high bar for what cannabis culture is, through a focus on professionalism, accessibility, and safety. Little did they know that a pandemic was soon to change the future landscape, and although business acumen certainly plays a role in keeping their doors open, it is Jordi and Jeremy’s deeply integrated sense of loyalty and commitment to their Whitehorse community that will likely serve as the secret weapon to their long-term survival.
The Business Side of Things
The Joneses amassed a wealth of entrepreneurial wisdom through their original concept, Triple J’s Music, Tattoos & Piercing, which was a cultural hub for over 15 years, evolving into Triple J’s Canna Space only after finally acquiring their cannabis licence, which was a history making moment in itself. Being the dreamers they are though, the Joneses were already thinking ahead; they decided to relocate into a larger downtown location (which doubled as a preservation effort for the significant and historic Yukon News building) and with Jordi’s background in retail management, the two-storey space (plus basement) was expertly fashioned into a tiered retail experience, with space for music, tattoos, and piercings, a boutique featuring their own skin care products (made in-house) and apparel, and at long last, a cannabis store.
Their vision,however, was (and continues to be) a much more complex design than simply having caught the infamous “green wave”. Jeremy’s background is rooted in policy, specifically occupational health and safety, and not only did this experience greatly support their rigorous efforts to attain the licence in the first place, but it greatly serves to support their vision of establishing a cannabis culture in the Yukon that sets a high bar and stands above the rest. To do that, the Joneses are diligent in ensuring the customer has the right information to guarantee the right experience. Safe and knowledgeable consumption is paramount. Jeremy has become highly certified in the field of cannabis use and consumption (we’re talking 25+ certifications) and the staff is offered extensive training as well. Where Triple J’s stands out is in Jeremy’s offering of consultation services for “safe use,” a program he has fully vetted through the chief medical officer. The Joneses not only know their customers, but they anticipate their needs in advance, and so created a safe space for new and experienced users alike.
Anticipating needs is a Jones’ specialty. They seem tapped into the model of: “What is possible?” They do not shy away from new concepts, even when there isn’t policy yet in place. Knowing that diversification is important (hence the multi-retail experience) Jordi already has plans in place for a room dedicated to edibles and topicals; additionally, she dreams of offering catered experiences specifically for women, and also noted there is demand for cannabis products for animals, if stores are allowed to carry these products in the future.
Another notable strength is their belief in the importance of staff. They hire locals who touch on a broad range of demographics (from young Francophones to Roxanne, the grandmother) to best represent the whole community, and they put heavy emphasis on staff training and education, ensuring customers feel welcome, supported, and assured.
Community for the Win
As they’re no longer the only kids on the block, the Joneses doubled down on not only putting the customer at the forefront, but also the community. They valiantly sell their product below government rates to ensure accessibility for the locals, but also to keep the money in the community. The chains that have since set up shop funnel dollars OUT of the Yukon, while Triple J’s keeps every cent close to home. Every sliver of their business uses local sources, producers, staff, and they are highly involved in community events and fundraisers. So when COVID-19 came creeping into the world, this investment in their community (a statement that doesn’t nearly capture how fiercely protective Jordi and Jeremy are of their home and people) is what will keep them rooted during this storm.
“We were so naïve. We thought the hard part would be getting licenced,” Jordi says with a tinge of sarcasm, but the pain in the reality of it still comes through in her voice. COVID-19 turned the world upside down, and suddenly this less-than-a-year-old business was faced with potentially shuttered doors. But 20+ years of building trust as local, family-run business owners has earned a strong customer following, and given their expertise in hurdling obstacles and navigating creative loopholes, they will no doubt be successful as they faithfully serve their Yukon community.