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Ontario’s first Spiritleaf store will be Guelph’s first cannabis store when it opens Wednesday, ending a drought of legal options for local users of cannabis products.

Corin Cominsky and her brother Steve Cominsky are partners with their father Steve Cominsky in a Spiritleaf franchise, which will open next week at the Edinburgh Market Place plaza on Edinburgh Road South near Stone Road West.

Corin is also the longtime owner of The Ten Spot beauty bar on Quebec Street and years ago went to school at University of Guelph. Steve is an electrician and their father was a tool and die maker by trade in Brantford before opening a series of businesses.

“He has been such an inspiration to us and we have learned so much from him,” said Corin of her father.

The family pooled their resources and looked to find a franchise to partner with during the initial cannabis retail lottery, held by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) in 2019, but were unsuccessful.

“We reached out to Spiritleaf at the time of the lottery,” said Steve.

Spiritleaf is branded as a premium cannabis retailer, with dozens of locations in Alberta and British Columbia. The Guelph store will be its first to open in Ontario.

The store will sell cannabis flower, oils and edibles, as well as accessories like grinders, pipes, bongs and electric vaping devices. It will be open to the public, but online ordering with delivery will also be available through the store’s web site.

Partnering with an existing retailer took a lot of the guesswork out of setting up the store and training staff, said Corin.

Under normal circumstances, the dried cannabis flower would be in containers on the sales floor for customers to view and smell, but for now during the pandemic it will be locked up behind glass.

Instead, customers will have to rely on the store’s 16 trained staff members to describe the differences between products to find the right bud for everyone.

Due to what the AGCO called non-compliance, the Guelph businesses who did win a license opportunity through the lottery process never materialized. 

In the meantime, the Cominsky family watched and waited for their opportunity to open a store in Guelph, which came in December, when the province announced the lottery process had been eliminated.

“It’s not often that you can be a part of an entirely new industry” said Corin.

Opening during a pandemic will be a challenge, said Corin, but the store is preparing to open with physical distancing in mind.

“Under the rules we can allow up to 20 people in the store at a time, but for now we are going to limit that to 10,” she said.

Her brother Steve said he hopes to see a line up on Wednesday, but also noted that the store and its staff will be enforcing measures like physical distancing and ensuring everybody who comes in to the store has a mask on.

“We want to ensure everyone is safe,” he said.

Corin said the first 50 people in line for each of the first four days will receive a special gift.

The store will be open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.

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