More than two-and-a-half years since cannabis was legalized in Canada, Langley is getting its first retail store this month.
HIGH5 Cannabis will officially open its doors in Aldergrove at 3227 264 St., not far from the Langley Banquet Hall and the Arby’s restaurant.
The company was established in 2019, with two locations in Victoria and Duncan on Vancouver Island.
The Aldergrove store marks the first for the company in the Lower Mainland, which will carry dried cannabis, pre-rolls, capsules, cannabis oil products, edibles, drinks, cannabis accessories, and seeds.
Manager Raji Buttar said HIGH5 is undergoing its final stages – including a final inspection – before doors will officially open.
“The process has been very long,” Buttar assured. “There was lengthy review as council had a lot of applications to choose from.”
The development application got its final approval in February of this year, barely squeaking by after a four-to-four split vote.
Originally, the council approved a plan last year that called for up to eight shops in the Township, with one in each major neighbourhood – Walnut Grove, Fort Langley, Aldergrove, Murrayville, Brookswood, Willowbrook, and Willoughby – and one more in the Carvolth area near the 200th Street highway interchange.
Eight retail applications for Aldergrove meant there was still competition for HIGH5, but Buttar felt it was their dedication to finding the right location that set them apart.
“We had a lot of input from public and finding a location was difficult, because it had to be away from schools and parks,” she said. “But we took everything seriously and handpicked this space with everything taken into account.”
Buttar resides in Abbotsford, where she said HIGH5 did try to set up a location; however, that store did not come to fruition as many cannabis retailers were quickly able to set up shop.
“Being so close to Aldergrove, it’s nice to be here in a community I frequent and know many people,” Buttar explained. “I’m grateful and thankful to everyone in Aldergrove for their support.”
Buttar knows that cannabis is still wrapped inside a stigma that has left many residents weary of the HIGH5’s arrival.
“It’s still so new,” she acknowledged. “Some people compare them to liquor stores already, but alcohol been legal for more than a 100 years. It’s going to take time.”
She did point out that at both the Victoria and Duncan stores, the age range of the main clientele are between 40 and 60 years old.
“There’s no loitering around outside. People buy and leave,” she assured.
For people who are curious but not yet comfortable, Buttar invited them to come with questions and an open mind.
“A lot of people are still discreet about trying cannabis, which works out great for our location because it is tucked away off of Fraser Highway,” she noted. “It’s hidden a bit, but still easy to get to.”
All of HIGH5’s employees at the Aldergrove store are local, Buttar confirmed. Each employee is security verified, meaning they go through a record check before they can be considered.
Each person must hold a Selling It Right certificate – obtained through a government-mandated course – and then specific training with staff.
“They are all familiar with cannabis too, so they are trained to guide customers and answer their questions,” Buttar added.
At any given time, there will be two people working at the store.
Buttar said she is still in the middle of the hiring process but has five staff members at the moment.
“We’re looking forward to becoming part of the community,” she said. “We plan to donate back and give back to Aldergrove and different charities.”
Township councillors turned down almost all the applications, allowing just two to go forward, with one in Aldergrove and one in Carvolth.
Federal legislation stipulates that individuals can possess up to 30 grams of legal dried cannabis, or it’s equivalent in other forms.
HIGH5 additionally has frosted windows so people outside cannot see inside the store.
More information can be found at www.high5retail.com.
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