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FOCUS: Another legal weed shop heading to Bloor Street (Apr. 2021)

May 12th, 2021 · No Comments

Value Buds to open where Aroma Coffee operated

Value Buds is moving into the former home of Aroma Coffee at 500 Bloor St. W. LUCA TATULLI/GLEANER NEWS

By Luca Tatulli 

The legal cannabis business is booming in the Annex. Value Buds, whose slogan is “get high, spend low,” is opening at 500 Bloor St. (the site of the former Aroma Coffee shop) – just a few doors down from Tokyo Smoke, a store whose aim is to provide an “education first” approach to the cannabis business. The business people behind these storefronts stand by their belief that their businesses will succeed, despite what some may call market saturation.

“What’s really key about our stores is it’s not about selling cheap weed, it’s about selling good weed cheaply,” said Darren Karasiuk, CEO of NOVA Cannabis, the company that owns the Value Buds chain.

Value Buds has one store at 499 Queen St. W. and is in the process of opening two others on Queen, one on the Danforth and one at Bloor Street and Landsdowne Avenue. NOVA Cannabis also has a total of six pending applications for stores in Ontario according to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario website.  

With this explosion of new storefronts dedicated to cannabis, some residents are wondering whether the Annex is set to become “cannabis central.”

“My only concern is that these will be vacant storefronts in six months time. There is not enough market demand to support what is a commodity product and one which can be easily serviced online. Weed is not really an impulse good,” said Annex resident Carlo Timpano.“It can be stored for long periods of time, there is a mild sensory aspect, but not really. It would be great if there could be a food and beverage component.”

Value Buds’ location is the former home of Aroma Espresso Bar, which had a large patio space. Some residents, including Vanness Mirovic, have questioned the “wasted” space.

While Timpano supports the idea of opening a store like Value Buds he thinks the over abundance of cannabis stores will lead to more empty storefronts along Bloor Street. This concern has led to further opposition from residents, who would rather see the storefront used for a restaurant or café. 

Despite the concerns from residents, Karasiuk remains optimistic that the Value Buds brand will succeed in the Annex and Toronto due to his company’s extensive experience in the cannabis industry. He cities the Value Buds brand having previous experience in the private liquor market in Alberta. Karasiuk believes this experience in the liquor and cannabis market will translate into success with Value Buds.  

 “Value buds is backed by a very well established private liquor retailer based in Alberta,” says Karsiuk. “So we have over a quarter century worth of experience in retailing, regulated products, and having deployed similar strategies in liquor retailing.”

Currently there are around 264 applications for cannabis stores across Toronto, according to data from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.


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