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We buzzed over to Nova Cannabis

We recently visited Nova Cannabis and here is what we experienced!

Toronto’s third legal cannabis retail location, Nova Cannabis fittingly opened its doors on the first legal celebration of 4-20.

Nova Cannabis Street Sign
Nova Cannabis 499 Queen St West and only blocks from The Hunny Pot

With my 4/20 already occupied covering other events around the region, I waited until the following Saturday to make my way to yet another Queen St location. I arrived mid-afternoon, and had to wait only minutes to be granted access. I was treated like a guest and offered a bottle of water, and a cannabis leaf pin from Lift & Co., while my ID was checked in line to expedite entry. From inside the foyer, a hired security guard was letting the Nova employee outside know when to allow the next patrons inside. Capacity is 34 patrons.

Picture of the store from the back facing toward Queen St.

As cannabis legislation in Ontario forbids any street level views inside its retail locations, it wasn’t until I entered the former American Apparel store that I noticed the differences between Nova Cannabis and The Hunny Pot. Housed on one floor, the store has the same bright, modern feeling, but a long deli-like counter is one of the main focal points of the store.

One of the features of the store – a long deli-style counter

The counter is brightly lit, and has digital display boards overhead listing the products and corresponding prices.

nova pricing wall toronto dispensary
Digital display boards with strain types and pricing

On the wall opposite the deli-counter is a wall displaying the various brands of cannabis the store carries categorized under the type of strain and displayed in empty product containers.

sativa pricing wall nova dispensary
Product display inside Nova Cannabis Shop Toronto
Wall of product display organized by strains

There is a heavy emphasis on the Aurora brand, which is no doubt due the the fact that Nova is licensed by Alcanna, an Edmonton based liquor retailer, and partly owned by Aurora.

Aurora display ad inside Nova Cannabis
About 25% of the store features Aurora product due the ownership structure.

The wall even features “Black Market Buster” deals which are rotating discounts on certain products. At the time of my visit the feature was Trailblazer Glow Hybrid Bud at $1.08/g discount off its regular price of $7.99/g. Interesting to note that this is listed at $33.50 on OCS.

Black Market Buster Pricing Promotional signage

An indica-dominant hybrid from Trailblazer in Moncton, N.B., with medium THC potency potential.

There are the occasional sniff jars scattered throughout the store, but nowhere near the amount that the Hunny Pot and other retail cannabis stores offer.

snifffer box for cannabis inside Nova
Sniff Box. Not too many found around the store

At the back of the store is a horseshoe shaped counter that has a plethora of cannabis accessories. The store almost seems to be a hybrid of cannabis outlet meets head shop. The accessory counter however was doing a brisk business as a many of the patrons were purchasing not only rolling papers and pipes, but basic $2 lighters. This suggested to me that perhaps many of these people were either first time users, tourists dipping their toes into cannabis tourism, or perhaps both.

Accessories within Nova Cannabis
A large number of accessories are also sold at Nova Cannabis
Check Out within Nova
Accessory Counter

There are a couple of ways to make purchases. There are the staff who are hovering around the floor area and can provide purchasing guidance, or for the more technologically inclined, there is a large stand alone kiosk, much like you would see in McDonalds. In both instances the order is placed and a receipt is generated with an order number. Near the cashier is a large flat-screen that indicates the orders that are being worked on, as well as those that are ready for pick-up. Great use of technology inside the store!

Digital Order board inside Nova Cannabis
3ft High Digital Order Board

I was greeted by a friendly CER (Customer Experience Rep), and in wanting to do a comparison of the the brand I purchased, I asked about Seven Acres product Jean Guy which comes in 3.5G containers. I asked the rep if he could tell me anything about the product and he described it as “it made him giggly”. Certainly a sensation that most can understand, but hardly a comprehensive description. I was looking for something like, it increase energy levels, relaxed you, more of a body buzz, helped induce sleep. As well as perhaps some description around the taste/terpenes etc. This is not a condemnation of the rep or even the store, simply an observation. This seems to be a trend with the retail location reps, which for the newbie cannabis participant, may leave them feeling a little confused/under served etc.

Check Out Counter within Nova
Checkout counter where accessories are also sold

My order was ready in no time and the cost of the cannabis was $39.95 for 3.5g. How does this compare to the OCS store for the same amount? OCS is $45.60 or $5.65 more expensive.

Nova Cannabis Receipt
Receipt from Nova Cannabis Purchase

I found this a surprise because at the time that I visited the Hunny Pot, all brands I purchased there were more expensive than the OCS.

In summary, I found the experience to be pleasant. The store was warm and inviting and I spent 15-20 minutes browsing and taking pictures. I liked the various options to order either dealing with a rep, or doing it yourself. I thought it might have been a little over-kill on the accessories which were also displayed and sold at the check-out counters.

Nova Cannabis pay point
Check Out Counter

My only complaint would be that the level of knowledge of the employees (industry wide) needs to be stepped up to educate people that are new to cannabis and provide a better barometer of the potential effects, so in turn the customer can achieve their desired experience.

Next up: Hello Cannabis!

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