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You aren’t alone if you are interested in learning about how to open a dispensary in BC. There are now more than 30 government-run BC Cannabis Stores and over 400 privately owned cannabis stores across the province. 

But this is far from an oversaturated market. There is still less than one store per 10,000 residents per MJBizDaily — well below Canada’s more competitive markets like Alberta and Ontario.

There is still substantial room for those wanting to open their very own cannabis store in this province. So how do you get started? 

Let’s walk through the steps on how to opening up a cannabis store in BC.

Start With a Business Plan

The first step to,”How to open a dispensary in BC” is a business plan. While many entrepreneurs have argued for the death of the business plan, you do need one to open a cannabis store. A business plan helps determine the CapEx and OpEx costs and project feasibility, and pinpoints any possible challenges with your new pot shop. Plus, it’s often a requirement during the application process.

In the business plan, you can break down expected startup costs, operational expenses, and projected cash flow for your first year. Within the highly competitive environment of BC, a business plan is also essential for detailing how your store plans to differentiate itself from the others in your neighbourhood.

It’s All About Location

Arguably, location is one of the most important decisions you’ll make opening a cannabis store. There are two considerations: Does your chosen location adhere to local regulations, and is it well positioned with nearby competition in mind?

Generally speaking, cannabis stores have to be located away from schools, community centres, liquor stores, and/or other pot retailers. However, these rules vary depending on the municipality, so you’ll want to confirm the regulations in your area.

How do you choose a spot? Let’s look at the municipalities in and around Vancouver. 

The City of Vancouver has an online interactive map of permitted cannabis stores, a valuable resource for finding out what neighbourhoods are underserved. On the other hand, the City of North Vancouver has completely closed down applications for new stores, while the District of North Vancouver is open, provided the new location is zoned for a liquor store, 200 metres or more away from schools, and within specific corridors. 

Licensing and Applications

The application and licensing processes for a new cannabis retail store in BC are exhaustive. First, you may require a Municipal Development Permit. (Check out the development permit in Vancouver and the rezoning application in Victoria as examples).

Secondly, you must apply for a Cannabis Retail Store Licence from the province. BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch manages this process through the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act.

Remember, “You must apply for a separate licence for each store. A licensee can only hold or have valid interest in a maximum of eight non-medical cannabis retail store licences.”

Third, you’ll also very likely need a municipal business licence. In the case of Vancouver’s business licence process, “The licence will only be issued after building and occupancy permits are closed, and a City inspection is complete.”

Plan Day-to-Day Operations 

The final step (albeit one you’ve likely worked on throughout the application process) is planning for your store’s day-to-day operations. Operation systems, including accounting, scheduling, inventory management and, of course, a sales system, are all necessities. In this regard, opening a cannabis store in BC is not that much different from any other business. The added requirement for cannabis stores is in compliance reporting. 

It is possible to piece together a series of disparate systems to run the day-to-day, but why invest in several systems when you can rely on one? 

TechPOS offers an all-in-one solution for cannabis retailers in British Columbia. It’s an advanced POS, compliance reporting software, staff scheduling, and business administration system, all rolled into one dashboard.

Instead of shopping around for a handful of tech that may or may not communicate with one another, TechPOS promises an omnichannel sales system specifically designed for the Canadian cannabis space. 

How to Open a Dispensary in BC. Start Here.

Beautiful British Columbia has less than one store per 10,000 residents. Despite its legendary BC bud, this province sits 7th on MJBizDaily’s list of stores per capita and only 4th for total stores. All of this is to highlight there is still a lot of opportunity in the province, provided you strategize.

If you are planning to open a cannabis retail store in BC, we’d love to help. TechPOS is a total store management solution specifically designed for Canadian cannabis owners. Our mission is to support cannabis retailers on a mission to turn their vision into reality.

Interested in finding out what the total TechPOS solution entails? Schedule a Demo Today.


Author David

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