But the crowded competition has pushed some shops out of business.
By the time Lula Fukur’s license was finally approved, and she opened her first of two cannabis shops on Queen West last year, there was already one across the street, with another three opening two blocks away.
“There’s too many of them,” she said, sitting at the end of her cavernous, artfully decorated and noticeably empty store, Cori, on a recent afternoon. “Definitely half of us will shut down. Everyone is burning money at this point.”
In their heyday, the first cannabis stores were selling $20,000 a day of marijuana, on average, according to a government report. But the Hunny Pot is serving just one-tenth of its record, Mr. Brown said, forcing management to close all but the front foyer, where a budtender serves customers from a simple desk. Cori is lucky to see 60 people a day, said Ms. Fukur, who plans to fill half of one store with natural wellness and beauty products, hoping that draws more customers.
Even more than unfettered competition, the biggest problem for store owners is an inability to differentiate their product, said Ms. Fukur. Every legal store is required to get their supply from the government wholesaler. That means they all sell the same things, in the same plain, sealed packages.