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OIB cannabis shops see increase in sales during pandemic

From Original Article by Sophie Gray May 2 2020

The local cannabis business is not suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the Oliver and Osoyoos Indigenous Bloom stores are reporting a 28 percent increase in sales since the pandemic hit.

The cannabis industry was declared an essential service by the provincial government during the COVID-19 shut downs, allowing both Osoyoos and Oliver locations to stay open to customers. The newly opened Indigenous Bloom stores, run in partnership with the Osoyoos Indian Band, are experiencing the same uptick in business according to senior vice president of regulatory compliance, Michael Lane.

Part of this increase comes from many new customers that both Lane and his retail location workers are noticing lately. Lane said although he can’t measure the number of new customers, his budtenders are reporting that they are getting a lot of first-time customers looking for product recommendations.

“I think they’re coming in to meet and discuss with our budtenders what a first time user could try or what kind of benefit they’re trying to obtain from cannabis; is it a medical thing or recreational thing?” said Lane.

The two Indigenous Bloom locations opened earlier this year under a partnership between the Osoyoos Indian Band. Chief Clarence Louie told the Oliver Chronicle previously that the stores fit with their overall business plan, providing jobs to people in their community and offering a unique source of revenue for Indigenous communities because of looser tax rules.

The cannabis shops have put in extra measures, said Lane, to make sure their employees and customers are safe. All workers are wearing masks and gloves and surfaces are sanitized frequently.

But the increase in business likely has to do with cannabis stores being deemed essential services in B.C. Lane said he’s not sure why that is, but he’s not complaining.

“It seems apparent that cannabis for recreational and medicinal purposes, it’s become essential to British Columbians and Canadians,” he said. “Ironic that two years ago we wouldn’t even have been having this discussion about being an essential service and here we are.”

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