Hunny Gawri, Owner of The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co.
The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. is Toronto's first legal dispensary established April 1, 2019. The Hunny Pot is full of your favourite cannabis strains, a well-curated cannabis menu to pick from, and a variety of quality cannabis accessories.
What is the biggest obstacle you are facing right now in relation to the pandemic?
Since the legalization of our industry, we have shown our ability to move quickly and pivot at a moment’s notice. Still, COVID-19 has meant that The Hunny Pot had to keep up (minute by minute) with rapid legislative and regulatory changes. This was the most challenging element because as governments developed their responses to the pandemic, we had to develop the operations, communications and details to carry it out. In many cases, this meant launching services much earlier than we expected to, like delivery. We had to stay on top of every single announcement and offer services under the new restrictions while also ensuring staff and customers are safe throughout.
How are you adapting your business to meet the needs of your clientele?
We have made many modifications to our business to both meet government regulations and the needs of our customers. This has included:
- Curbside pick-up: launched on April 8, 2020.
- Same-Day Delivery: we were the first legal cannabis retailer in Ontario to launch same-day delivery with the first purchase on April 13, 2020
- Creation of Live Budtenders: allows our customers to visit our website and ask questions directly online about products, pick-up times, availability and more.
Are you experiencing an uptick or decline in business?
In the early days of COVID-19, we saw a significant decline in business with reduced walk-by traffic and tourists visiting our city. Thankfully, due to the government's swift decision to allow curbside pick-up and delivery, we were able to adapt and increase customer purchases each day. We wait in anticipation for more government announcements on the next phase of reopening, but until then, we continue to improve our efficiency with curbside and delivery and we heed the advice of public health agencies on guidelines to keep everyone safe.
While COVID-19 feels like it was completely unpredictable, the reality is that we should be preparing for everything and anything.
What is your takeaway from the new reality of operating during the pandemic?
To invest early to ensure we are always prepared. As a company, we have always been ready to tackle new challenges like opening a cannabis store within weeks of a license allocation. While COVID-19 feels like it was completely unpredictable, the reality is that we should be preparing for everything and anything. We feel that because of our early investments, we were able to leverage internal resources and mobilize our team to make adjustments to our website within hours of the government announcement and accept online purchases. If we didn’t already have that in the pipeline, we would not have been able to mobilize so quickly.
What are you doing to keep it together both on a personal level and business level during these challenging times?
On both a personal and business level, our team has been trying to look at the bigger picture and what this means for the industry. We found ourselves examining day-to-day operations when the announcement was released and this deemed itself an unsuccessful approach. We need to think bigger to ensure we are not overwhelmed with the minor details. We are asking ourselves the tough questions: Will customers lean towards delivery and curbside pick-up after the state of emergency is lifted? What other provinces have successfully reopened and what are they doing within the cannabis industry to support their customers? We need to be thinking six months ahead to prepare our teams internally for what is to come. It’s been helpful to take control of what we can, right now.
Notwithstanding the many challenges caused by the pandemic, The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. has successfully opened two new locations in Toronto, with two additional store launches scheduled for June. This will take their tally to six dispensaries to better serve the cannabis community.
2591 Yonge Street, Toronto ON (a few blocks north of Yonge & Eglinton): Opened May 9th, 2020
2103 Yonge Street, Toronto ON (a few blocks south of Yonge & Eglinton): Opened June 4, 2020
40 Centennial Pkwy N, Hamilton ON (Stoney Creek): Opening June 13, 2020
2903 Dundas Street West, Toronto ON (in the heart of the Junction at Dundas and Keele): Opening June 19, 2020
The New Canna-Normal is an ongoing Q&A series with the cannabis community as we evolve to greet the new normal.