Independent pot shop pops up in the Park

Adam Holloway (left), president and founder of Bene Buds Cannabis and a 2009 Bev Facey graduate has lived in Sherwood Park his entire life and currently lives in Summerwood. The entrepreneur opened Bene Buds, an independent cannabis store, at 3890 Sherwood Dr, Monday, Aug. 19, after waiting 10 months since legalization for his licence to be approved. Photo Supplied

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A booming new industry in Canada continues to grow in Sherwood Park.

Another cannabis retail store has opened but this one has a unique twist, it is independently owned and operated by a local resident.

Adam Holloway, president and founder of Bene Buds Cannabis and a 2009 Bev Facey graduate, has lived in Sherwood Park his entire life and currently lives in Summerwood. Starting this business has been a goal of his for years, but it wasn’t a smooth journey.

“It has been a dream to own a cannabis store my whole life,” Holloway said. “I signed a 10-year lease and didn’t even know if I’d get a license, I didn’t know if I had the money to pay the lease but I signed it and stopping was no longer an option.”

Holloway said Bene Buds had its official opening Monday, Aug. 19 and now he can finally breathe a sigh of relief but the long delay has definitely left him with a pile of debt. Travis Dosser/News Staff

Holloway did run into some unexpected issues as he tried to open up his shop Oct. 17, 2018, the day marijuana became legal across Canada.

“It has been 18 months since we applied for the licence, so there was a big hold up there and we’ve watched lots of the bigger companies get their licences first and were able to open up, but we’re just a single independent store trying to make things happen and serve the people in my hometown,” he recalled.

In March 2018, the Alberta government began accepting applications for marijuana storefronts. While Bene Buds submitted its application in the middle of May, they were number 165 in the queue of more than 1,200 applications. It took 10 months to get the go-ahead. Holloway noted he took possession of the location at 3890 Sherwood Dr in April 2017 and has been paying the lease, bills and his employees for nearly two years without being able to open the shop.

“There was nothing we could do about it even though we were a local store and we even tried convincing the AGLC that the franchise stores, like Fire & Flower, Nova and others, were getting their 11th or 12th store and we asked why each company can’t get one licence at a time and go from there,” he said. “We felt it was unfair that they could open up multiple stores before we were allowed to open up one, which is locally owned and operated.”

Holding its official grand opening on August 19, the shop offers staff-approved product and High Society trained staff. It will also offer deals through its Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Holloway noted he can finally breathe a sigh of relief now that the store is finally allowed to open, but the long delay has definitely left him with a pile of debt.

“Debt, debt, debt, unfortunately, is how we stayed afloat. We had a big cash injection through my partner, but that only carried us for so long, so now we’re using our line of credit to pay staff and place orders for product,” Holloway said.

Once Bene Buds climbs out of debt, the company hopes to open a second store on the other side of Sherwood Park to allow residents to buy from a local shop on any side of town. In the meantime, he hopes residents will support local. In time, he plans to give back to local charities and groups, once they’re out of the red.

“We’re the only store in Sherwood Park that has every single product available out and visible in the store,” he said. “It is all about getting use to the brands and seeing the packaging and we feel the easiest way is laying out all the products so you don’t have to shop off a screen.”

Bene Buds is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. The store also plans to stock edibles as soon as November or December.

tdosser@postmedia.com

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