Have you always wanted to buy your cannabis in the same space it was grown? Farmgate stores offer just that experience. These locations provide an interactive shopping trip where visitors can buy products and get a glimpse into the growing process.
We checked in on four Ontario farmgate stores, Thrive Cannabis, Station House Cannabis Co., Royal Cannabis Supply Co. and Level Up Cannabis Factory Outlet, and it’s clear that even though this program is still recent, it’s already yielding positive results. Visitors can expect a locally curated stock of products, and producers are able to engage with their customers, using their direct feedback to both strengthen their community and inform purchasing decisions.
Read more to find out about each location and the benefits of visiting:
Thrive Cannabis farmgate store, photo courtesy of Aurora Cannabis Inc.
Producer: Aurora Cannabis Inc.
88 Keith Richardson Pkwy
Open since: April 2020
Nestled between Norfolk and Haldimand Counties is an 84-acre farm that received one of the first outdoor cultivation licences ever awarded. Thrive, acquired by Aurora, is also the home of Greybeard Cannabis Co. and the production site for all their live resin concentrate products.
For Thrive, the long-term goal is community integration. Robyn Rabinovich, VP of Marketing at Aurora, says, “Having a farmgate store allows the team to really connect with the industry, consumers and each other. You’d be hard pressed to not find members of our cultivation, extraction, packaging and leadership teams chatting away at the store with consumers regularly.”
The store also has limited product and swag drops. Plus, Rabinovich tells us, consumers stopping by on Fridays in the summer are likely to find Bubba Nicholson, VP of Consumer Brands & Ethos, and other team members hosting barbecues in the parking lot.
“Since acquiring the farmgate store, we’ve been able to expand our product offerings at the store to include a wider range of brands and formats to suit our consumers,” says Rabinovich. “The team has curated a menu to support their micro-community, offering a full line-up of Aurora products: Greybeard, Whistler, San Rafael ’71, Drift, Being and Daily Special, as well as selections from other Licensed Producers.” A broad range of formats are on offer, including dried flower, pre-rolls, vapes and oral strips.
Station House Cannabis Co. farmgate store, photo courtesy of Sensi Brands Inc.
STATION HOUSE CANNABIS CO.
Producer: Sensi Brands Inc.
150 Burwell Rd
St Thomas, Ontario
Open since: September 2021
Station House Cannabis Co.
As a tribute to both their brand and St. Thomas’s reputation as the railway capital of Canada, Station House farmgate store is situated in a well-lit, retrofitted freight train container, offering visitors a taste of local history while they explore the space.
In the main section of the container, large screens stream video of various grow rooms. You can watch strains like Ghost Train Haze and Gorilla Glue go through each stage of production and evolve into the finished products available for purchase.
Steve Barich, Chief Revenue Officer at Sensi Brands Inc., believes that Station House’s strongest features are its community ties and highly trained budtenders. It’s not uncommon for their back-of-house employees to head over to the storefront after their shift to chat with customers and show off items they helped produce. Barich has found the organic education and calm environment creates community acceptance, which keeps customers coming back for more.
Station House stocks three Sensi Brands — Potluck, Sensimila, and, of course, Station House. Potluck is a fun and flavourful brand that offers lots of variety at an affordable price. It currently offers four main strains, but it will soon be adding four more to its Canadian collection. Sensimila is an ultra-premium flower brand that focuses on higher THC, while Station House is a value brand that also produces high-quality pre-rolls. The Station House team is very proud of their pre-rolls, making sure that each is hand-finished so that the burn is always perfect, with a nice hash ring throughout.
Royal Cannabis Supply Co. farmgate store, photo courtesy of Medz Cannabis Inc.
Royal Cannabis Supply Co.
ROYAL CANNABIS SUPPLY CO.
Producer: Medz Cannabis Inc.
105 Claireport Cres,
Open since: July 2021
Royal Cannabis Supply Co. is proud to be the Greater Toronto Area’s first farmgate location. Just 15 minutes away from Pearson Airport, it offers “a unique dispensary experience that cannot be matched by other stores,” says Luca Rea, VP of Business Development at Medz. Being perfectly positioned on the border of Vaughan and Mississauga, and at a short 15-minute drive from Bolton, they’re able to serve customers in areas with no cannabis stores.
The in-store experience includes TVs with live feed showing off the state-of-the-art indoor production facility. This gives patrons an in-depth look at the site and grow rooms, where RC Supply Co. grows its high-quality products.
Knowledgeable retail staff are happy to chat to visitors about all aspects of production, including product curation and the seed-to-sale process. Plus, there are opportunities to meet with RC Supply Co. staff, such as the master grower and cultivation leads.
RC Supply Co. is on a mission to bring legacy cannabis to legal markets by delivering the same potency, quality and bag appeal. Their focus is on top-of-the-line genetics with strong cultivars from exclusive breeders, as well as rare exotic strains. At the time of writing, their Ice Cream Cake dried flower had made it to the third and final round of judging in the 2023 Karma Cup. Soon they will be expanding beyond dried flower and pre-rolls, with their first-ever live resin vape cartridge.
In addition to showcasing RC Supply Co., the store sells several unique and premium products from select brands, including Harts, HashCo and Glenn’s.
Level Up Cannabis Factory Outlet, photo courtesy of Level Up Infusions
Level Up Cannabis Factory Outlet
LEVEL UP CANNABIS FACTORY OUTLET
Producer: Level Up Infusions
155 Martin Ross Ave, Unit 4
North York, Ontario
Open since: December 2022
Located on Martin Ross Avenue in North York, Level Up Cannabis is the factory outlet to cannabis beverage company Level Up Infusions, meaning they’re directly attached to their production facility. Sarah Quadri, Communications and Marketing for Level Up Infusions says, “We are a little off the beaten path — intentionally — but we can assure you, it’s worth the drive!"
Since Level Up Infusions specializes in beverages, they have a unique sampling opportunity for visitors. “We offer uninfused samples to our customers in advance of their purchase,” says Quadri. “We know that people like to smell and taste products, so we operate with a try-before-you-buy model.”
Quadri believes that the ability to interact directly with their customers is “very important, especially so they can try and provide feedback on limited release and seasonal beverages before we release them.”
The company is passionate about making great-tasting cannabis beverages and spends months finalizing recipes “to ensure that the cannabis infusion does not negatively impact the aroma and taste of the final product.”
The factory outlet offers all categories of cannabis products, with a specific focus on beverages. The brands are a curated mix of their own, including Field Trip and Impromptu, as well as other independent Licensed Producers that the company works closely with. Quadri also hinted that Level Up Infusions will be expanding beyond beverages, increasing the possibility for even more sampling experiences.