SUNDRE — The owner of Sundre’s first cannabis retailer said opening the business was something he had aspired to do for many years.
“This has been a dream for a long time,” said Brent Cleasby, who was born and raised in Sundre.
Just 10 years ago, many people — among them Cleasby — might have thought the end of cannabis prohibition would never come.
“I didn’t think it would either. I’m quite glad that it did!” said Cleasby, adding he had for roughly 30 years wanted to get into the business, but for obvious reasons decided otherwise.
Of course everything changed when the federal Liberal government officially ended the nearly century-long prohibition on cannabis in 2018, and Cleasby began working to make his dream a reality, a process that he said was two years in the making.
Open seven days a week, his new store, Sunshine Cannabis — located on the north side of the Main Avenue Highway 27 corridor immediately west of the Bearberry Creek bridge across the road from Corner Brook — opened on Tuesday, May 26.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on gatherings being limited to 50 people, a grand opening is for the time being postponed until further notice, he said.
Yet despite no prior advertising leading up to the business’s launch, Cleasby said word of mouth seemed to have spread quickly and that the first day was quite steady.
“I just put the ‘open’ sign in, and then people went, ‘Ohh, you’re open — I’ve been driving by looking!’” he said with a laugh.
Customers have largely been a mix of locals as well as visitors from out of town, he said.
“It’s a little bit of everybody. We got a lot of workers who come in from out of town, so they see it and are happy. And the locals are definitely getting the word around town now. They’re starting to phone.”
With a parking area large enough to accommodate his deliveries that arrive in a semi, he said there’s plenty of room for RV traffic to pull in, making it easy for people hauling a trailer or boat on their way to the west country to “stop in and stock up.”
His driving motivation behind pursuing the business was to provide a commodity that has many benefits beyond recreational and medical purposes, such as infused beverages as well as beauty products including ladies’ face cream.
“I believe in the product,” he said.
“And I think it’s a very good business.’
Although navigating through the labyrinthine bureaucracy involved in filing all of the required paperwork was a time consuming process that took about two years, he said the municipality substantially facilitated the whole process.
“The town was excellent to deal with. They were very accommodating, and very helpful.”
Additionally, he said there were no major expressions of opposition from the community during the business’s permit and development advertising period.
“People seemed pretty accepting in Sundre.”
While Cleasby had for a period of time left Sundre and worked in central Alberta, including sales with Ford in Calgary, he moved back to town more than 10 years ago, and was most recently prior to embarking on his new adventure a sales manager at Country Road RV.