SYDNEY MINES, N.S. — Cannabis connoisseurs in Cape Breton will soon have a plethora of retail outlets from which to pick up their desired product.
From the opening of the first cannabis stores in 2018 until last autumn, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp.’s busy Sydney River outlet was the only place to purchase legal cannabis in Cape Breton.
But that was then. Now there are four such stores. And by the end of 2021, the number of cannabis retail outlets on Cape Breton Island will total nine.
NSLC outlets in Port Hawkesbury, Baddeck and Glace Bay opened in-store cannabis shops late last year, and renovations, including the establishment of a cannabis retail area, on the corporation’s Sydney Mines store are expected to be completed by April 19.
NSLC spokeswoman Beverley Ware said new cannabis stores are also planned for Dominion, New Waterford, Sydney’s Welton Street location and in Inverness. She expects summer openings for the three Cape Breton Regional Municipality locations, while Inverness is likely to open later in the year. “The initial sites were chosen because they were in major hubs and would reach the largest proportion of customers and also because of the size of those stores could accommodate us putting cannabis stores in there,” said Ware.
“But the plan and the intention all along was to build on that and to eventually have cannabis stores across the province to be able to make an impact on the illicit market. We’ve now doubled the number of cannabis stores in the province and we now have 24 and will be able to build on that.”
Ware said the Sydney Mines outlet renovations are taking a bit longer than originally thought, which will result in the cannabis retail outlet opening on April 19.
Meanwhile, the province has called for tenders on work to be done on the NSLC’s Dominion store.
The corporation-owned Commercial Street building, which it shares with a Needs convenience store, was constructed about 50 years ago and needs some structural and exterior work. Ware said the store is getting a new walk-in cooler in addition to its modification to a cannabis retailer.
There are currently 24 NSLC stores with cannabis shops. Collectively, the NSLC reported cannabis sales for $22.2 million for the last three months of 2021.
In terms of overall product sales, the NSLC’s latest financial results that were released last month show that the Sydney River store was the top performing NSLC location in Nova Scotia with sales of more than $6.5 million in the period that covered Sept. 28 to Dec. 27, 2020.
The Glace Bay store was the next-highest ranked Cape Breton store at 23rd with sales of $2.8 million for the same period, followed by Sydney’s Prince Street store, which had sales of $2.6 million. The Louisbourg outlet (105th provincewide) had the smallest sales numbers at $216,000 for the same three-month period.
There are 108 NSLC stores in Nova Scotia.