“We were recently informed by our local bylaw officer that we are an essential service therefore, allowed to stay open.”
Yes, this definitely tops the list of things you’d never expect to hear a head shop employee say, right behind, “Of course you can see this bong,” and “Here’s where you can go to find some good weed.”
Nonetheless, Braelin is offering the information with a straight face. The manager of Smoking J’s Hemp Shop is serious about this. While we’re on the subject, she also has no problem with the “B” word, nor does she recoil at the idea of helping a customer score some sticky. In fact, that last one is baked right into the shop’s business model. More on that later.
How is this all possible? Location. Location. Location. These are but a few of the many benefits of having a six-digit postal code that contains both letters AND numbers. Yes, Smoking J’s is a Canadian store, located in Edmonton, Albert. They aren’t burdened by the lingering puritanical stigmas and outdated laws that still plague us down south.
“We’ve definitely implemented some more sanitation measures,” Braelin continues. “We’re looking out for our customers—and our staff as well. We’ve also added an option to our website for curbside pickup. We’re doing free city-wide delivery for purchases over $50, so you can place that order with us and we’ll deliver it to your door.”
This is the sort of streetwise, forward-thinking savviness that has fueled them from the beginning. Now only five years in business, Smoking J’s has already become a staple of Edmonton’s retail offerings, boasting an incredibly loyal base of local customers that is underscored by an impressive national following on the web.
It all began simply because Jay, the owner and founder (as well as Braelin’s brother) was fed up with sitting by as the local medical cannabis and accessories outlets continually charged extortion-level prices for their wares. “He was just tired of seeing all of this profit over patient stuff,” says Braelin.
“He built the store from the ground up,” she adds. “Our store was originally a tattoo studio, so he has taken down all the stalls, all the extra walls and all that . . . He’s had Canadian artists like Grominator do art on the remaining walls. Everything else—our fancy floors to our pallet walls and all that, Jay has designed and installed himself.
While Braelin credits a lot of their success to the store’s gorgeous aesthetic, she sees it as more of a manifestation of the underlying ethos Jay has implemented. It’s all about the attention to detail, whether it’s the family business atmosphere, the focus on North American products, the immaculate customer service, or the acute marketing strategy. Basically, they don’t cut corners.
It also doesn’t hurt that they’ve expanded their horizon with a digital store as well. “We have had our website up and running for a few years now,” Braelin states proudly. “It brings us in customers from all over Canada. We have international customers as well. Just the other day we shipped out an order to Sweden. It’s just wonderful to see that a store that started small, here in Edmonton five years ago is able to branch out and go literally worldwide. We can share our consumer expertise with customers all around the world.”
“We offer free shipping Canada-wide,” Braelin says. “If you are anywhere in Canada right now, you can place an order with our online store and we’ll have that shipped out to you within a few days, free of charge.”