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Holt Renfrew launches cannabis pop up in time for holidays

Published on November 5, 2019 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Emmi Ojansivu/Hiku Design

Facing the continued challenge of differentiating its brand from those of other cannabis producers and retailers, Canopy announced two moves designed to make its products synonymous with luxury.

Canopy’s first choice was teaming up with venerable high-end department store Holt Renfrew (once furriers to the British Monarchy) to create a line of holiday-themed cannabis accessories.

These accessories will be sold via 19+ pop-up shops inside Holt Renfrew locations in Toronto and Vancouver—though they will be conspicuously absent from Holt Renfrew’s former Art Deco headquarters in Montreal.

(This is likely due to concern about running afoul of Quebec’s notably strict laws against the sale of products bearing images or words associated with cannabis, as well as laws demanding smoking implements be hidden from sight until patrons ask about them.)

Rolling trays and bud jars decorated with Holt Renfrew’s “winter-wonderland” themed Holiday Toile print will be the first new products to expect from the partnership. These will be sold alongside “a curated selection of Tokyo Smoke‘s best selling design and fashion forward accessories.”

At the same time, the company is in negotiations with a winning recreational lottery license applicant to open a Tokyo Smoke franchise at Toronto’s One Bloor Street East, at the corner of Yonge—virtually the epicentre of Toronto’s luxury shopping district.

The address is a significant step up for cannabis retail applicant 11180673 Canada Inc., who first came to prominence winning the Ontario retail lottery with a proposed site at the recently raided location of notorious scofflaw dispensary CAFE, which police and bylaw officers barricaded with concrete blocks this past summer.

11180673 Canada Inc. owner Robert Heydon, a TV and film producer, stressed in August that he had “no connection” to the CAFE dispensary or its owners and had never met them.

At the time, he would not explain how he chose the address, or knew landlord Ali Gillani, formerly CEO of a company cofounded by ace counterfeiter turned CAFE cofounder Wesley Weber.

By shifting from the controversial location of a defiant illicit dispensary to one of the most expensive retail areas on the continent, Heydon—with assistance from Tokyo Smoke and Canopy—could trade the veneer of the legacy market for a position at the crossroads of commerce in Toronto.

Should both ventures succeed, the one-two punch of a Holt Renfrew partnership and a retail space in the centre of Toronto’s shopping district may help Tokyo Smoke continue to position itself as a high-end adult-use brand.

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Jesse B. Staniforth
Jesse B. Staniforth
Jesse Staniforth reports on cannabis, food safety, and Indigenous issues. He is the former editor of WeedWeek Canada.
View Jesse B. Staniforth's articles
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