By Lyonel Doherty
Brian Kropp will go down in history in Oliver for opening the first legal retail cannabis store downtown.
“It feels good . . . everyone who comes through has been real happy with what we’ve done and built here,” he said of Bluewater Cannabis at 6341 Main Street.
Kropp said their demographic has been people age 19 to 90.
“I would say right now 70 per cent of our business is senior (who buy CBD oils and capsules).”
He noted they have already sold quite a few CBD capsules and pills to seniors, so obviously there’s a big market for that.
“That’s something we are very conscious of,” Kropp said, noting they want to make sure Bluewater is a good fit for the community.
He said their price point is very fair, noting they are selling products considerably cheaper than some Penticton stores.
Kropp said that CBD products are very popular right now, adding that it’s an alternative to taking pain medication for everything from inflammation to headaches.
“CBD is one of those wonderful things that people are turning towards to oppose gobbling down Tylenols and Advils.”
Kropp said people even use CBDs for their pets, noting they have sold a lot of CBD liquids diluted in water for dogs and cats suffering from conditions such as arthritis.
The proprietor said the biggest thing associated with cannabis is the social stigma behind it.
“People think they are going to walk in and there’s going to be weed all over. Obviously, all of our stuff comes from the government; it’s all mandated and comes from certified companies that have gone through rigorous inspection.”
Kropp said everything they purchase for the store is a controlled substance that has been tested. And what is on the label is exactly what is in the packaged product.
The store features a variety of products, including pre-rolled joints, one gram, 3.5 and 7 grams, plus an extensive collection of CBD capsules, gels, oil and liquids.
“Obviously it’s a big market, and for us, we don’t want people driving down to Penticton; we want them to understand that there’s a store right here in Oliver that caters to their needs.”
Kropp said the word of the day in this business is “educate, educate, educate.”
“After the government made cannabis legal, it’s no different than going into a restaurant and having a glass of wine; no different than going into a pub or going into a liquor store.”
The entrepreneur said a few people have walked in with the illusion that cannabis is bad, but after a quick conversation they are better educated on the topic.
He said cannabis has greatly evolved from the stuff people grew in their backyards, noting there is a lot of science behind it now.
“We always invite people to pop in because our staff is super knowledgeable about it.”
He introduced store supervisor Kauhla Allen-Moog, whose expertise speaks for itself.
When asked what hoops Kropp had to go through to open the store, he immediately said “hoops of fire.”
He didn’t mind that because he’s a firm believer of the adage: if you’re going to do it, do it properly.
Bluewater Cannabis had to pass stringent government screening and licensing protocols, following by licensing from the Town of Oliver. In addition, all of their staff must pass specific screening too before obtaining their certificates.
Kropp is quick to acknowledge that Bluewater is not going to be the only cannabis shop in town. But he can say Bluewater was the first (five days and counting).
Kropp is proud that Bluewater has established a special program to recycle all of their product packaging. Therefore, he invites customers to return all of their packaging for recycling. He noted the money raised through this recycling goes to non-profits, and Bluewater plans to set itself up with some non-profit organizations in Oliver.
Kropp has used cannabis since high school and recognizes it now as a new industry. He looks at it the same way as the wine industry, which started with one winery.
“This time next year I’d like to see a bunch of really awesome cannabis stores. It’s an industry where it should be embraced, and it provides good paying jobs.
Kropp said there is always going to be a black market for cannabis. In fact, it will never go away. He added that people have a right to choose how they obtain their cannabis, but if they want to know exactly what is in the product they are consuming, then a controlled environment (like Bluewater) will provide that.