A new cannabis store in Ste Anne is set to open near the end of June, and owners Sean Stewart and Chrislyn Friesen say they’re excited to bring craft cannabis to the region.
"We really saw a huge opportunity for us to bring our knowledge and our work ethic back to Manitoba and really create something unique," Chrislyn said.
Originally from Steinbach, Chrislyn is happy to be moving closer to home. Sean, raised in Toronto is also excited about the change.
Both bring some key knowledge and experience to their first store, called AAAAA Supercraft.
Sean said he’s been a proud daily smoker and connoisseur for well over 20 years. He started in legal cannabis with Canopy Growth prior to legalization where he built Tweed into the most recognizable cannabis brand in Canada. He currently works remotely for TREC Brands where he’s created from scratch "Thumbs Up Brand", and helped develop Blissed and WINK.
Chrislyn had been working as a business consultant, helping large companies adjust to life with COVID. She also has her own interior design company, called Chrislyn Designs.
The pair have created Supercraft, a cannabis product line focusing on sourcing from the best small-batch cannabis producers in Canada.
While there are other cannabis stores in the province, both say this will be unique, offering customers "expertly trained, cannabis-sommelier level service".
Product lines include smoke-free options in a variety of CBD/THC potencies and formats including edibles, oils and beverages.
Another product line is called Supermom, and it will offer a space for cannabis health and wellness products including merchandise such as topicals and beauty products aimed at busy moms.
COVID helped make the decision for the move, and after spending a month here last summer, both say they knew it was time to go.
"If everything is locked down you want to be close to your family and have that support network," she said.
Even Sean’s parents will be moving to Manitoba shortly to be near family as well.
Admittedly a new concept for a rural area, they believe customers will appreciate their approach.
"The sophistication of our education is the thing that will set us apart," Chrislyn said. "To be able to be a part of this community is awesome."
Sean said this is a good time to be getting into the business simply because the product choice is so much greater than it was two years ago.
"We can really hone in on what it is that our consumers are looking for and what we recommend based on us being experts," he said.
Chrislyn said Ste Anne has been a great place to set up shop.
"We’ve had a great response from the community of Ste Anne," she said. "It’s very exciting."
Sean agreed. "It seems like there’s some good buzz already," he said.
Educating their customers is a priority for the couple, who say they are also willing to speak at different places to ensure customers can use their product carefully and responsibly.
"We hope that this can be the centre or resource for the entire area," he said.
Staff has been hired from Steinbach, Ste Anne and Beausejour. "We really wanted to keep it within the community and create jobs for people," she said.
Sean said this also marks a time where more people are looking for legal options as opposed to simply buying from their old supplier.
"We’re kind of in the middle of that shift now where people in the illicit or legacy market are making the move over into the legal market and quality is getting better and prices are going down," he said.
With attention to detail and reasonable prices, the couple hopes to attract motorists on their way to cottage country or other tourist destinations.
They’ve also concluded an artist contest to cover the inside and outside of the shop with murals. They will also be able to sell their work in the shop.
The opening day is planned for 10 a.m. on June 25, with door crashers, door prizes and contests planned as part of the excitement.