With a strong entrepreneurial spirit and support for cannabis legalization, the Katzman family started Green Town Cannabis. Sam Katzman along with his mother, Alissa and father, Rob, jumped into the industry by moving from Windsor, Ontario to Red Deer, Alberta in order to pursue their new business – both as an economic opportunity and to support of the social change that could be brought about by taking cannabis off the black market.
Opening Green Town:
Fortunately for the Katzmans this wasn’t their first entrepreneurial endeavour. They brought with them a history of opening and managing various retail and hospitality businesses, and they knew that their location in Red Deer would be a prime spot for business.
As the only cannabis dispensary in the area upon opening, they found that many of their partners during the opening process were supportive of their plans. They became close with the AGLC, the municipality, the real-estate and builders even helped them coordinate with the municipality.
“I felt like the community really wanted us here.” – Alissa Katzman
It was during this set-up that Alissa sought out a POS system for their business.
“The most important decision I made was the selection of the POS. We had a lot of companies approach us, and we did a lot of research, attended a lot of conferences and trade shows, and had a lot of people wanting to sell their POS to us. Ultimately, I found Greenline on Google.” – Alissa Katzman
With various POS systems on the table, and having researched them all, Alissa felt that Greenline POS fit her needs best. Specifically, being a Canadian business, Greenline stood out for it’s clear focus on Canadian regulation – there was no room for confusion with any US laws.
“We’ve used POS systems before, but dealing with compliance reports and documentation was intimidating for us. Greenline made it easy, and the demo sold itself.” – Alissa Katzman
Bringing the product to customers:
“It was great to open a store that was so busy. We had 4 cashiers and POS systems going at all times and it was like 4/20 on most days, every week.” – Alissa Katzman
Equipped with Greenline POS, Green Town’s grand opening was a booming success. Alissa’s role was of operations and front of store management, and she hired a team of young people who, just like Alissa and her family, were excited to support Cannabis legalization.
They all believed in the value of taking cannabis off the black market, and believed in the good they could bring to the community by doing so. Green Town set out to help customers buy cannabis the “right way” by providing reliable information as best they could – and if they couldn’t, trying to be helpful in any other way. This philosophy would come to serve them well as they were challenged by the industry lacking variety in product options. Through these limited offerings, they tried their best to introduce customers to new products.
“It was very interesting to watch customers who thought they only wanted a high THC, dry flower product and end up with an oil product that they were happy about.“ – Alissa Katzman
Overall, Green Town has seen great success since opening, and Alissa believes they’re playing a part in positive change. The Katzman family has now moved on from that location and is waiting for more opportunities in Alberta once the AGLC license freeze gets completely lifted. Alissa is confident and optimistic about growing their business. As entrepreneurs for their whole lives, Alissa and her family will be keeping an eye out for future opportunities in the cannabis space.
“When I open another store, Greenline is going to be there.” – Alissa Katzman
Upon opening their doors in October 2018, after receipt of one of the City of Calgary’s first ‘batch’ of approved licenses hand-delivered to compliant retailers, BELTLINE Cannabis Calgary – assisted Greenline in identifying and developing POS features to assist with their business operations.
BELTLINE Cannabis Calgary, home of the Budtender™ was founded by local Calgarian Karen Barry. Karen, together with managing director, Peter Boyne bring plenty of entrepreneurial experience in both the start-up arena, enhanced by extensive wisdom from the consumer-packaged goods industry.
Karen was a 28-year career veteran in the commercial real-estate investment brokerage industry prior to the BELTLINE journey. The AHA moment came when she was approached by several other potential cannabis retailers to lease her wholly owned 1908 commercial zoned historic house. In making that significant decision, she recalled a primary business lesson – opportunity reveals itself at the time that you least expect. Are you paying attention?
The process of obtaining the retail license took about 8 months including a variety of legal and financial forms, as well as forensic investigative background checks and personal interviews. Despite industry and regulation challenges, Peter reports that their experience working with the AGLC and the city of Calgary has been professional, accommodating, fluid, and flexible.
As many of our retailers know, store atmosphere is critical to the business brand. As the BELTINE Cannabis team worked to prepare for opening, they turned to Calgary’s history for inspiration. Specifically, Karen wanted to share a taste of the rich Beltline district’s history, highlighting local heritage buildings with their customers and local community.
“I was inspired by a love for eclectic antiques and a desire to bring a piece of Calgary’s history into present day retailing.” – Karen Barry, Founder BELTLINE
Items include a salvaged 1960’s vintage steel display case that originated from Lloyd’s roller rink, a former Calgary notable destination spot. As well, the store features a huge wall mural with destination markers for such distinguished historic buildings in the Beltline area including: the Nellie McClung House (circa 1908), the original Sherwin Williams homestead, and the former childhood home of Sir George Stanley, the designer of the Canadian flag.
Additionally, all items in the store were individually sourced, re-purposed fixtures and chattels. For the BELTLINE team, it was also important that their handi-lift for wheelchair accessibility was conveniently located at their front door to encourage participation from all segments of the community.
“Prominently including our handi-lift was important to us. We wanted it placed as if to say, ‘Welcome one, welcome all.’” – Karen Barry, Founder BELTLINE
The Beltline district in Calgary is densely populated with businesses, hotels, and residences – a fact that assisted in driving BELTLINE Cannabis’s success when they first opened on Oct. 30th, 2018.
Where many retailers experienced initial growing pains in their first month, Karen and Peter describe a relatively smooth ramp up in the opening month – one that undoubtedly credits itself to their past business experience and level of preparation.
“The first month was stressful and it was exhilarating indeed!” – Karen Barry, Founder BELTLINE
Having started with Greenline earlier that month, they were set-up and ready to use Greenline POS immediately.
“Greenline stood out. We interviewed 3 service providers for consideration – Greenline’s demo was comprehensive. It was simple, straightforward, cost effective, and operationally easy to use.” – Karen Barry, Founder BELTLINE
As with all Greenline customers, Karen also enjoys a direct phone access to our support team during all hours of operation. As opening day neared, Karen and Greenline encountered a critical last minute issue. Together, Greenline and BELTLINE worked through a direct uploading of the AGLC compliant data needed to open the doors.
“Greenline delivered that HIGH PRIORITY, time-sensitive project with a less than 24 hour turn around. The Greenline team took the inventory and uploaded it for us – truly wonderful.” – Karen Barry, Founder BELTLINE
The data upload task was done manually at the time by Greenline employees. Learning from this, a feature would be implemented into Greenline POS to automatically convert AGLC recorded products into the database.
“It was an extremely detail oriented task because everything was organic, manual, chaotic and last minute. In short, there was a great deal of information that required complete integration – Greenline got it DONE.” – Karen Barry, Founder BELTLINE
“We’re glad to be working with Karen, as it is lessons like these that help our software constantly improve and better serve our cannabis community.” – Calvin Ho, COO
BELTLINE Cannabis Calgary’s success – as evidenced by highly positive online reviews, cult status budtenders™, and a locally loyal customer base also benefit from the BELTLINE philosophy on running their business.
“People come in happy, they purchase, and they leave happy. It’s a very basic human, in-person interaction that digital software and phones cannot replace.” – Karen Barry, Founder BELTLINE
To meet this vision, the BELTLINE team set out to hire budtenders of all ages and backgrounds who could work professionally and portray cannabis retailing similar to any other retail business. Included in this strategy was Budtender™ 67 year old Janice Clark, a former pharmacy technician, several middle aged employees, and younger student employees to round out the team. Furthermore, with local issues in supply chain, Karen and Peter also faced the challenge by setting their hours from 12pm to 6pm every day, allowing them to remain consistent 7 days a week.
“The biggest problem is from the industry; we manage it as best we can.” – Peter Boyne, Managing Director BELTLINE
Maintaining this kind of consistency was a major business requirement for BELTINE Cannabis as it was vital for their customers to be able to conveniently drop in; Many of their customers live in the Beltline district, with others dropping by after work or from their homes located all over Calgary. BELTLINE Cannabis, positioned as a world class, one of a kind retail cannabis experience said they serve an increasing number of international tourists. Recently, patrons served include folks from Eastern Europe, the US, Asia and the middle east.
“At BELTLINE, we prominently highlight that Cannabis is for amusement not abusement and we promote a healthy and balanced approach to cannabis use.” – Karen Barry, Founder BELTLINE
“There appears to be a great deal of chatter within this newly minted industry, however it is important that we all work together and deal with the industry issues as an industry, not a silo.” – Peter Boyne, Managing Director BELTINE
BELTLINE Cannabis continues to give us valuable feedback, as their team needs accurate and detailed reporting to make business decisions. It’s from their entrepreneurial drive for efficiency and data-driven decisions, that assists Greenline better understand the needs of our cannabis community.
“It’s a joy to deal with people who get it. Honestly, I have founded many a company and collaborating with the Greenline team is like dealing with me in business. They are efficient, focused, and always improving. Greenline understands our vision – I only wish I could clone the Greenline team for other projects.” – Karen Barry, Founder BELTLINE
Working with her feedback over the past few months, Greenline POS implemented sales reporting (updated by the second) to see her LIVE inventory with markup estimates – allowing her to see the worth of her store at any given hour. We also implemented a variety of changes to include detailed inventory margins and data-driven feedback.
At the moment, Karen and Peter continue their business as usual, looking optimistically at any changes the industry might bring.
“It’s a new industry, and it can only get better from here.” – Karen Barry, Founder BELTLINE
At Greenline POS, we are excited to continue our work alongside BELTLINE Cannabis Calgary, we stand with them, optimistic for the future.
Laurie Weitzel is the owner of Earth’s Own Naturals Ltd., a store in Kimberley, BC named as a way to honor the cannabis plant and the earth in which it grows. Initially opened in Jan 2017, ‘Earth’s Own’ recently reopened after acquiring British Columbia’s second cannabis retail license.
Laurie optimistically continues to pursue a vision of cannabis as a means to better people’s quality of life–one that ultimately started with her late husband Chris being diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
Upon Chris’ diagnosis, Laurie and Chris chose to change their lifestyle to incorporate a strict organic Paleo diet, to seek a hospital that focused on increasing a healthy immune system, and for Chris to ingest cannabis oil extracts daily. This led them to Sanoviv, a cancer treatment hospital in Mexico, Their experience with cannabis would leave Laurie with an impactful and long lasting memory of Chris saying that he would prefer 10 good days of life, rather than 6 months of sick, bed ridden days.
“Sanoviv was a 9 week lesson on how to live life; It was important for Chris to find his quality days” – Laurie Weitzel
Returning to Kimberley, Chris’ quality of life improved through the regular use of cannabis oil and the couple eventually found that Chris’ esophagus cancer was disappearing. Their relief would not last, however, as Chris’ liver would ultimately lead to his passing on November 29th, 2015.
However, before Chris’ passing they had approached Kimberley’s city council and requested a business license for his vision of a cannabis retail store. He explained his story of how much cannabis helped him in his fight against cancer and that same evening, he left with the council’s unanimous decision to grant their business permit.
In trying to find a location, Laurie was pleasantly surprised to find that an ideal space was owned by the Skookumchuck Workers Memorial Hall Society. Having worked as a millwright at the Skookumchuck pulp mill for 16 years, and has been a union president for a time, the society was supportive of the new retail store opening the Cannabis Dispensary in January 2017.
“The current president told me that Chris did a lot for the union and they would help me out wherever they could. They even had his memorial celebration of life picture up of him in the back office.” This is where we needed to be – Laurie Weitzel
Although Chris passed away before the store could open, cannabis had given him comfort during these days and improved the quality of his time so that he could check off some bucket list items. After, Laurie would carry on Chris’s vision to allow others to benefit from cannabis as he did. And having been a former business owner of a property/strata management company, Laurie was familiar with the process of opening and running a business successfully.
Beginning in the grey market
“It was very important that this business was run like any other business. We were all in a precarious situation and the thought was if we communicate well with the community and we all know what is going on, then hopefully none of us would be blindsided by unexpected events.” – Laurie Weitzel
Laurie would incorporate “Earth’s Own Naturals Ltd” in November 2016 and open in January 2017. Aware of the various risks for the store and the community, Laurie reached out to her local mayor and chief of police. They would start meeting regularly to discuss regulation and how it would affect the municipality, the RCMP, and Earth’s Own Naturals.
“There [continues to be] zero incidents with the RCMP around our store, the community has accepted us being there, and both parties feel that our business is for the betterment of the community. ” – Laurie Weitzel
It was with the approval of the city council, the municipality, and support from the community that Earth’s Own Naturals came to be. The entire community was coming together to support Chris’ dream. Through it all, Laurie paid careful attention to her store’s internal community as well. She carried on a lesson from her parents that “the staff are the best assets to a business” and made sure to operate her business like a partnership, alongside her team. Laurie would take care of her staff, and in turn the staff provides their best service to the customers.
“In the unregulated dispensary days, we spoke to our clients about health in general. I would often share the kind of modalities offered at the Mexican hospital where [Chris] was treated.” – Laurie Weitzel
It was through quality of service that Earth’s Own Naturals would perform their best outreach. Many of their customers at the time would come in for pain relief, and it was with quality service that Laurie and Earth’s Own Naturals team would have an impact in removing the stigma against cannabis and live up to Chris’ vision for the business.
The transition to legal retail
Laurie’s close cooperation with the municipality and community would soon pay off once legalization came around, as a warm and positive public consultation process undoubtedly played a major role in Earth’s Own Naturals obtaining BC’s second cannabis retail license.
As a part of their transition out of the grey market and in line with her store’s team culture, Laurie involved her entire staff to select a POS system together–and the team unanimously selected Greenline POS.
“We all thought it was simple and easy to use.” – Laurie Weitzel
After reopening, Laure soon noticed that their customer base had changed. Before, customers came in for pain relief, now many of their customers were recreational tourists coming from the US, Europe and Alberta. Laurie expects their older customers to return in the fall once they’re able to restock on some old favorites including concentrates and oils. Until then, she holds true to her belief that quality service and teamwork builds the foundation of her success among a new clientele.
Through their transition, Laurie appreciates Greenline’s transparency and ability to work with her store’s culture and community.
“I feel like we’re told the truth and that [Greenline] is an extension of the team” – Laurie Weitzel
Greenline also suits her needs by making compliance reporting easy.
“I just send compliance updates to [Greenline] and I don’t even need to think about it! I know it’ll be good to go when I need it.” – Laurie Weitzel
Laurie started Earth’s Own Naturals with an optimistic vision for the future that could better people’s quality of life. This is the belief that lies deep at the heart of Earth’s own naturals–a name Chris chose to reflect the couple’s appreciation for organic and natural products. It’s in this spirit of community that helped bring together the city, old colleagues, staff, and customers to make Chris’ vision a reality.
The Canadian cannabis community is changing and we believe the future of cannabis retail lies in integrating with, and serving local communities. ‘Living Skies Cannabis’ is one such Canadian retailer that was founded on the principle of understanding and serving their community.
As one of Saskatoon’s best cannabis retailer, founded by Canada’s youngest Cannabis retailer, Cierra Sieben-Chuback, her store ‘Living Skies Cannabis’ prides itself on local expertise and community ties. Their prime location in the heart of downtown Saskatoon helps them stay in the middle of the action as the one-stop-shop for all cannabis needs. However, beneath the surface lies a far more community-oriented business model, driven by Cierra’s local expertise, and love of her hometown.
“I wanted to open a cannabis store more than anything, and maybe that’s why I got it; It showed.” – Cierra Sieben-Chuback, Owner of Living Skies Cannabis
Two days before beginning her last round of university finals, Cierra was driving to Regina at 6:00am to submit her Cannabis permit application to the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA). She would be competing against 165 other candidates for one of seven city permits. Despite still being a student, she knew this was what she wanted to do.
As a user of medical cannabis after being diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis in 2016, the thought of running her own retail business began to emerge as a way to help others in the same way that cannabis had helped herself. As she completed her degree in business operations, she began drafting a business model for her envisioned cannabis store.
“I realized that I can’t afford to live without commiting to the things I care about.” – Cierra Sieben-Chuback
Despite being met with skepticism there was no time to be discouraged, as about two months later she heard back from the SLGA that she had received a permit, which realized her ambitious goal of opening as soon as possible (once legalization came into effect). Inspired by her father, an entrepreneur who dropped out of school to support his family, she started her process of incorporating and establishing her business with no time to waste. Her journey eventually led her to Hempfest that August, where she first came in contact with Greenline POS — however, circumstances would lead her to use Shopify instead.
“I always intended to use Greenline, but Shopify offered me a deal I couldn’t refuse.” – Cierra Sieben-Chuback, Owner of Living Skies Cannabis
Approached with a deal from Shopify to supply her with the POS hardware and software required for free, she leapt on the offer to save thousands of dollars in initial costs. It would take a few more weeks to get everything set-up, after which she was ready for the SLGA compliance inspection.
As a part of compliance, every order and movement of cannabis supply needs to be thoroughly tracked and reported–from opening inventory, sales, theft, destruction, to detailed closing reports. However, Shopify did not meet these compliance reporting needs.
“It was messy, but I thought it was good enough.” – Cierra, Owner of Living Skies Cannabis
In the following weeks, Cierra contacted Shopify support but they were unresponsive. Legalization was two days away, and with Shopify’s responses taking several days and with no solutions in sight, she made the choice to contact Greenline POS.
“Greenline literally swooped in and saved my butt.” – Cierra Sieben-Chuback, Owner of Living Skies Cannabis
Cierra needed the right software with compliance expertise, and she needed reliable communication to ensure that she could open as soon as possible. Shopify had sold her on a great deal, but the software was not the right fit for cannabis compliance, and their customer support did not understand her specific needs as a cannabis retailer. After scheduling a demo, we had her ready to use Greenline exactly three days later on October 17th, exactly as legalization came into effect.
“I had no idea a software company could be this responsive!” – Cierra Sieben-Chuback, Owner of Living Skies Cannabis
When Cierra contacted us, we knew we needed to work fast to help her out. While not our primary supported product, we also made sure that Greenline POS was compatible with her existing hardware.
“We work closely with our customers to make sure they are prepared for the grand opening, no matter how tight the timelines are. Greenline POS is not just a service, we aim to be an integral part of your customer’s team.” – Calvin Ho, COO Greenline POS
POS software choices can make or break operations, and cannabis retailers need a POS that works alongside them to simplify and reduce their operations without adding roadblocks
The second hurdle: launch
Upon opening, many of our customers encounter the growing pains of launch. Through it all, Greenline POS works alongside retailers as a part of their team to catch and resolve problems with minimal issues. Specifically, we provide:
Full compliance report generation
Complete inventory tracking per the Canadian Cannabis Act regulations
Total control over staff actions and permissions
Fast and reliable customer service to identify issues and provide solutions to Cierra to get her set up and use her existing hardware.
We have also found that stores are likely to make mistakes inputting purchase order details–so we’ve made it easy to fix mistakes at any point of the process without needed to redo purchase order details. Additional features that enable our customers to work more effectively are always a high priority for our service–and for Cierra, we worked to integrate her Moneris payment processing units directly into our POS system.
Akin to Cierra’s community-focused values, at Greenline POS we care about providing an all-in-one, bullet proof experience for our retailer partners. We recognize that retail stores are not perfect environments – managers and staff make mistakes all the time.
“We built our POS to work for the real world. A big part of that is being able to correct mistakes made in the pasts in a way that maintains accountability and compliance.”- Albert Kim, CEO Greenline POS
In the future, Cierra intends to switch to our current hardware due to it’s pleasant design and clean presentation–which provides a solution to the chaotic wiring of her current setup. When she does, Greenline will be ready to help her through that transition as smoothly as possible.
‘Living Skies Cannabis’ opened early December and Cierra promises her customers quality products and reliability as one of Saskatoon’s finest cannabis retailer. To do so, Greenline POS provides quality service and reliability–this is our promise to our customers.
“Greenline is responsive, professional, and just deals with it better.” – Cierra Sieben-Chuback, Owner of Living Skies Cannabis
Every day, we work with successful, independent cannabis retailers and we understand how to help you succeed. Our service is built with the intention to work as a part of your team, not just as a POS system. We have set the foundation to ensure your success and efficiency by providing incredible expertise and service that suits your specific needs. Whether you’re needing support or requesting a new feature, we’re always available to work with you.
Since our founding, we’ve dedicated our POS to becoming the bullet-proof solution for the Canadian independent cannabis retailer. The Canadian cannabis community is changing and we are dedicated to serving our community’s needs better than anyone else on the market.
Sign up for a demo today!
Learn more about Living Skies Cannabis.