Former Yonge St. HMV reinvented as a pot shop

For Blaine Barber it was a blast from his past, a chance to revisit the former Yonge St. HMV store where he had purchased hundreds of records. But this time he walked out of the same address with a different type of product: the kind he can smoke.

“I thought it was going to be much larger,” Barber, 49, said when he walked into the Tokyo Smoke cannabis store. Located north of Yonge-Dundas Square, it opened Monday and saw a steady stream of customers.

The store is intentionally kept small. Store management said demand will dictate the pace at which they expand, with enough room to go up to about 6,000 square feet from its current 1,500 square feet.

“Some of those records that I bought here 15 years ago are worth hundreds of dollars now,” he said. “Now, I’m coming here to buy weed.”

Barber has visited two of the four Toronto stores opened since April 1, and says the customer experience varies. The shelves are stocked with dozens of different indica and sativa strains.

Barber described his earlier trip to Hunny Pot, which was the only Toronto location to open on April 1, as a more guided “hand-holding experience,” where customers are assigned a budtender who travels through the store with you.

“Which means you wait in line longer, but you get dedicated service,” Barber said of the Queen St. W. pot shop. “Here (Tokyo Smoke), it’s a bit more laissez-faire.”

Barber who admits to having an average understanding of the effects of various pot strains, said he finds staff at both locations to be fairly knowledgeable.

“There are signs here that says how much (THC or CBD) is in each,” he said.

The store was granted occupancy clearance Sunday. By Monday, Tokyo Smoke, had been supplied with 125 kilograms of pot said store manager Brytany Melville.

Read more at The Star

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