Vancouver’s The Village Bloomery is beloved around these parts. The store operated for four years before becoming a licensed retailer, winning local awards and a small army of loyal customers along the way–and for good reason.
After all, this is a true mom and pop operation (the owners’ grown up kids even work at the store); it’s a place that encapsulates the care, compassion, and authenticity that many of us associate with the cannabis community.
“We love cannabis and this shop is a celebration of the plant without all of the clichés,” explains co-Founder and operator Andrea Dobbs. “Bright, inviting, joyful, and authentic. Whether you know a little or a lot, you’ll find your people here.”
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The Village Bloomery is a safe, inspiring space crammed full of great products and even better people. In short, it’s the kind of cannabis retailer you could happily bring your mom to.
Before you even set foot in The Village Bloomery, you realize that this is not your typical cannabis retailer. Located inside the Waterfall Building, an aptly named piece of architecture designed by Arthur Erickson, the entrance feels like a high-end gallery.
Beyond the stylish exterior is a professional environment where everyone can feel comfortable. Its design didn’t happen overnight; The Village Bloomery worked with experts such as Mario Paredes from Workbench Barcelona, and the design firm Banter Grace & Lollipop to get everything just right.
“We’d been open for 4 years prior to becoming a licensed retailer, and we alongside our customer base were feeling uncertain about what the new landscape might look like,” Dobbs says.
“We wanted to keep it as similar as possible while incorporating the Health Canada compliance demands…We’ve incorporated elements from Arthur Erickson’s work–we’re located in the iconic Waterfall Building, and we worked with a great design team–Banter Grace & Lollipop–who supported us in developing our brand to create a window treatment that felt warm and welcoming.”
There’s a calmness to The Village Bloomery, a welcome antidote to some of the heavily-branded spaces that dominate legal cannabis retail. It’s also delightfully analogue, an entirely screen-free experience that’s shorn of the overload of information and touchscreen devices that seem to be de rigueur for retailers.
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“Our intent is to make human connections that empower people to make informed decisions around how cannabis might fit into their life,” says Dobbs.
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“We’re information forward and we trust people to make choices based on information,” explains Dobbs.
“It’s part of the whole analogue piece–we don’t want to see folks gazing into screens trying to understand all of the information on their own…Ultimately people are going to make their own choices, but not until they’ve had a dialogue with an experienced human being.”
Products and pricing
The care that The Village Bloomery shows for its customers is only matched by the attention they pay to their products.
“As a boutique retailer, one of the things that differentiates us from big box is that we create our menu organically,” says Dobbs. “We shop for products that pique our personal interest.”
The personal touch doesn’t stop there. The Village Bloomery also takes the time to test all of the products and explore the people behind them to make sure they fit their own exacting standards.
“We purchase samples from the BC Cannabis store, we run our own set of practical tests on the products–for instance, with flower we smell, squeeze, grind, roll, dry pull, burn, and evaluate for effects,” Dobbs says. “Then we dig deeper to explore the social capital behind the brands that we enjoy.”
Pricing however, is something that Dobbs describes as a “delicate process.”
“Pricing is challenging because we have a single source for our supply and that supplier is also a retailer,” she explains. “The BC government selected the unionized Liquor Distribution Board to be the distributor who also has exclusive access to mail order in BC…they retail at very low margins so our pricing has to take competing with our government retailers and paying our employees living wages into consideration.”
Good to know
In an arena that’s sadly all too often dominated by men, it’s great to see a retailer founded by a woman. It’s just another aspect of the authentic, compassionate and plain old human experience you’ll find at The Village Bloomery.
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