Chris Lord only started working in the legal cannabis industry in February 2020, but before that, enjoying the vape on his days off (aka laundry day) makes those mundane household chores way more fun. Plus, “There’s always a bag of cookies nice and close,” he laughs.
His first retail gig was working for long-time friend, Angelo Muscari. Lord responded to a wanted ad on Facebook. Even though he’d stepped away from sales about ten years previous, working for a friend selling cannabis was more appealing than hauling boxes at the Amazon warehouse.
“I reached out to him and was hired on the spot,” he says. Joining the team as a budtender, he quickly took over the back room and gave it a complete reorganization. About four days into the position, Lord became keyholder.
By December 2020, he’d moved to work as keyholder at Ridgeburn Cannabis Shop in east Ottawa and was quickly promoted to assistant manager. Lord and the store manager Fletcher Garcia have effectively divided roles within the shop: Garcia focuses on ordering and inventory, leaving the personnel and product knowledge side of things to Lord. “He’s left it to me to coach staff, make sure everybody’s doing their job, and have fun while doing it.”
Passionate about the products and ever eager to offer customers—and staff—his knowledge and expertise, Lord recently completed certification from the Trichome Institute and achieved level one in the CannaReps Sommelier certification. Upon completion, sommeliers are trained and knowledgeable cannabis guides who have mastered product appreciation and best practices. “I’ve taken what I’ve learned through there and am constantly talking to the staff about new products,” Lord explains.
Before every staff meeting, he puts together a report on the new products, detailing the terpene profiles and more. “[It’s] everything they’ll possibly need to learn about it,” says Lord. “It’s just a constant push for the best.”
Lord hopes to certify in level two when it’s permitted to attend in-person in British Columbia. “It’s high on my list,” he notes.
What does he love most about budtending? “Honestly, the customer interaction,” he replies. “I’ve always been a people person and now [selling] a product like cannabis, the good laughs, the shared stories, [while] developing that relationship and rapport with the customer is definitely [the] main goal.”
Lord finds working at management level very rewarding. “[I enjoy] just watching my staff grow and learn, and if there’s downtime, developing their product knowledge. I’m super happy to be with Ridgeburn. Fletcher is fantastic, and the owners allow us a lot of leeway as long as we do what’s needed.”
Something Lord has found challenging in the past, which new budtenders might also experience, is how to promote different products and further educate customers about the overall profile of a product. Maybe the highest THC isn’t the be all and end all.
“Everybody’s still so focused on highest THC, and I get that, but try to have that conversation with someone who’s set on THC and speak to them on terpenes. For example, I may have a product that’s only at an 18% THC but with its terpene profile I explain the product might actually be what they’re looking for.”
He advises newbies to take their time and learn. “Product knowledge is definitely key. What’s great with social media is I’ve connected with all the LP reps, and if you have questions, they respond quickly. They will help you out. And, have fun!”
Follow Chris @capcitycheeba and Ridgeburn Cannabis Shop @ridgeburnshop on Instagram