Written by The Strategy
As of December 17th, 2020, Queen Street West is getting a new cannabis retail concept. Dimes Cannabis is a design-led cannabis brand that has customers shopping by intent, and collaborates with premium licensed producers, aiming to serve cannabis that is craft, sustainable, and organic, wherever possible.
In anticipation of Dimes Cannabis’ store opening, we spoke with owner, JP Adamo, to learn about what makes Dimes a new cannabis experience.
Tell us a little bit more about how Dimes Cannabis came to be:
It’s been a long-time in the making. I started the process back with the second (cannabis retail) lottery; I just missed out on it, but I figured that, parallel to that process, I wanted to develop the brand and design of the store. I worked on that with a hunch that the lottery system would be abolished, and I wanted to be ready when that came, so that I would be further ahead than if I had started from scratch at that point. I spent that time doing market research and working on the design. Luckily, I already owned the building we’re in, so I could develop the design behind the scenes. As soon as the lottery system was abolished, I was in right away with my application. My tenant at the time was leaving, regardless, in the spring. Once she left, I took over the space, started construction, and really, the store was ready to go in July; we’ve just been waiting for the AGCO and to get our final license. Now, we’re at the point of opening!
The interest started quite a few years ago. My family was in the hospitality business for years and we were looking to diversify. Ironically, it was my dads idea to look at cannabis growing, more on the LP side. I spear-headed that objective. I dove deep into the cannabis world, and took it to the point that we were close to pulling the trigger. But, after doing all the research, we just collectively felt we were maybe a little too late. That kept the bug in my ear with respect to cannabis. I wasn’t necessarily a consistent user of cannabis, but I was intrigued by the complexity of it. I come from the hospitality and wine world, especially wine production, and I saw a ton of similarities between wine and the profiles, and the complexity of cannabis, and the different terpenes and strains. I then got the idea to go into cannabis retail. None of my other siblings were really interested at the time, so I started on my own.
Around the same time, one of my aunts was diagnosed with cancer, so I started looking into the medicinal and wellness benefits of cannabis. Although we can’t make these claims in Canada and Ontario, and there is still a lot of research to be done, I was doing a lot of reading on cancer patients and how medicinal cannabis was benefiting them. That piqued my interest even more, and led me to enter the second lottery system, and I decided to develop the brand and design and led me to where I am today.
What’s the inspiration behind the interior of the Dimes Cannabis retail space?
I partnered with Ali McQuaid of Future Studio, who designed Bar Piquette. I loved the experience of working with her and pitched the idea to her two years ago when I was looking at the retail side. The interior design went parallel with the branding. She worked with Olga Kisza from Indeks Studio, who did our branding. It was a harmonious approach. I wanted to put a lot of time and effort into the brand, and I wanted to make sure the brand was connected to the design elements of the store.
It was also molded by my experience of going to the stores that were already open. I just felt that none of them resonated with me as a consumer. I wanted to design a store that I, as a customer, would love. I went in head first with the design, and worked with Jeff Crews and Ali. Jeff worked on Bar Piquette and is working on our new bar on Ossington. It would have been easier to pick retail shelves out of a catalogue from around the world, but that didn’t fit with me and my identity, as well as a store that was part of the Queen West community. I live and have a business in Queen West, and wanted to create a store that looked like it had been here for awhile and was a neighbourhood store. I also knew people would have an association with Bar Piquette, and I wanted to tie-in common design elements.
I was really also inspired by the plant. The natural element of the plant; the earth tones. You’ll see a lot of earth tones and natural elements in the store, with our rammed earth stone and brick. That translated into the branding with our ‘Intent Legend’, categorizing, and our cannabis strains. We used a lot of elements from the earth to categorize our different intents.
Due to Covid, Dimes is opening with curb-side pick-up. How are you translating your brand identity with curb-side service?
It’s an interesting time. Everything we retail is on display in the store. Every one of our SKUs from flower to accessories, are displayed. We don’t have menu screens or digital menu boards. It’s very sensory. It is difficult to translate to a curb-side experience, however our little touches from branded bags to a warm beverage on the house when waiting in the cold, will translate who we are. With my hospitality background, the services and hospitality that we provide will set us apart from the rest. We will try to remember your name. You’re not a number or a transaction.
How has creating Dimes been different from creating Bar Piquette and Crosley’s?
They are obviously two different industries: one is retail, and the other two are in hospitality (both industries getting pummelled by COVID right now). The fundamental difference for me is that Dimes truly is my baby. With Crosley’s, I have two fantastic operating partners, and I work with my sister on Bar Piquette. Those are much more of collaborative efforts. Dimes is me and only me, though, obviously, relied heavily on my designer and collaborated with her and my branding team. Because it is just me, it’s taken on a lot of my personality. It was also created during the time of Covid, so there have been some adjustments to accommodate.
Visit Dimes Cannabis, as of December 17th. 1048 Queen St. W., Toronto