How product delivery has changed for local craft beer and cannabis companies

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Photo by Darien Funk

In the midst of this global health crisis, many local companies have had to find alternative ways to adjust to the circumstances in terms of product delivery. 

While the province has moved towards phase two of reopening earlier this month, these alternatives are still necessary for some companies, more specifically, for craft beer and cannabis shops in the region. 

John Radostits CEO of Bud & Sally, Waterloo’s first legal cannabis store noted the ways in which the store has had to rapidly adapt their business model over the course of a few weeks. 

“We opened the store on Mar. 14, so we really opened right when the COVID-19 crisis was first really starting to impact things.”

“The store went from being open and allowing customers [in], to being closed, as all cannabis stores were closed by the provincial government, to then being allowed to open for sidewalk pickup and online orders. Then we added delivery and now we’re back to allowing customers to enter the store on a limited basis,” he said. 

In May, Bud & Sally began offering home deliveries for customers, with safety protocols in place for drivers and customers. They have now reopened their store with limited capacity, and are continuing to offer in-store pick up options. 

“We had to rapidly develop our online presence and build out an online retail platform really quickly,” Radostits said. 

By law, cannabis stores are restricted in terms of public advertising, so making customers aware of the new store proved to be challenging, explained Radostits. 

“The thing for us is that we really only opened for about 10 days before customers were no longer able to enter the store, so awareness of our store and awareness of our brand in the market I think was probably one of our biggest challenges”

“We can’t do billboards or take ads out in newspapers or things that most normal businesses can do, there’s a great number of restrictions,” he said. 

Many local craft breweries have been able to adjust to the current circumstances with product delivery as well.

Graham Spence, co-founder of Block Three Brewing Company said that customers and patrons have been receptive to their new delivery model.

“I think people like that they can still get local beer delivered right to their door and we can maybe give them some sort of normalcy in this strange time.” 

“I mean it’s a nice service to offer people, right? People enjoy it and maybe they can’t always get out to St. Jacobs, and now this is a way for them to get our beer more easily,” he said.

Block Three Brewing Company’s retail store is open, and they have an online bottle shop that is available for local delivery as well. 

“We realized with people not being able to come in and sit down and have a beer that was definitely going to impact us so it was kind of a quick and easy [and] necessary step to make,” Spence said.

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