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If you have ever needed to fill up on gas and munchies in Canada, chances are that you have been inside a Circle K convenience store. Now, you can also pick up cannabis gift cards in Canada to one of your favorite dispensaries, Fire & Flower.
In late January 2021, Fire & Flower dispensaries expanded its network of third-party gift card retailers to include nearly 300 Circle K locations in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Ontario. Here is what you need to know about this new and exciting product offering.
Circle K Makes Cannabis Gift Cards in Canada Possible
Whether you want to stock up for the holidays or like the convenience of buying your weed with a gift card, you can now get Fire & Flower gift cards at various Circle K locations in Canada. Gift cards range between $25 and $100 denominations and are redeemable at any dispensary location or online for pickup orders.
Trevor Fencott, CEO of Fire & Flower, said in a press release, “our commitment to digitally enabled and convenient retail experiences is an important part of our strategy as a tech-enabled, differentiated brand retailer.”
According to the latest market research, over 70% of Canadians buy gift cards. In addition, gift card shoppers typically spend more than the value of the gift card. Fire & Flower has made a small but impactful move that reduces friction in the cannabis customer’s shopping experience.
Circle K and Fire & Flower Grow Together
Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard, owner of the Circle K convenience store chain, has made big and bold moves in the cannabis space. Circle K and Fire & Flower’s partnership represents a taste of what is to come in the industry’s future.
In July 2020, the dispensary chain announced it was partnering with Circle K to open neighboring locations in Alberta. Two stores in Calgary and Grand Prairie were the first locations to come from this partnership.
Fire & Flower is active in four provinces: Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. It also has locations in the Yukon territory. The dispensary chain runs over 90 retail locations in the country.
In October 2021, Fire & Flower announced it would expand its co-location pilot program and open up new dispensary co-locations over the next several months in Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
Couche-Tard has seen promise in the cannabis space since 2019, when it made a few investments with major cannabis companies in Canada.
Couche-Tard Inc invested $26 million in Fire & Flower in July 2019 for a 9.9% stake in the business. It has the option to increase its stake to 50.1% with additional investments.
Couche-Tard Invests in the Cannabis Space
In February 2019, Couche-Tard began a multi-year agreement with leading cannabis producer Canopy Growth Corporation to run a retail store in London, Ontario. In May 2019, the dispensary opened under the Tweed brand name.
In September 2021, Canopy Growth Corp announced it would distribute CBD vape products exclusively at over 3,000 Circle K stores in the U.S. Its Whisl CBD brand line uses CBD made from hemp grown in the U.S. Products are available in 200 mg pods for different effects in moods.
Circle K also partnered with a California CBD company to expand its product line in the southeast. Circle K sourced Newport Beach’s Wild by Nature vapes and tinctures to 150 locations in Alabama and Florida. This represents a major expansion into the U.S. CBD market.
During the height of the pandemic, Circle K announced the sale of CBD products in its Coastal Carolina's Division by partnering with Ignite International brands.
Customers could now buy CBD-infused gummies, sports creams, tinctures, and essential oils behind the counter. The massive investment in cannabis puts these products into more than 400 stores in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.
How Convenience Stores Are Betting on Cannabis
Since the 2018 Farm Bill took effect, hemp and CBD products have skyrocketed across the country. Convenience stores, in particular, have seen cannabis as a promising revenue generator.
Convenience stores already have the advantage of selling regulated products such as alcohol and tobacco. The next logical step would be cannabis sales as tobacco and alcohol sales decrease.
Today, many convenience stores offer a variety of CBD-based products, although the quality can vary by brand. While the drug is legal for adult use in many states, it cannot be sold in convenience stores or anywhere else except for licensed dispensaries. If the drug became federally legal, cannabis products could potentially be sold in convenience stores.
Gas stations and dispensaries are a natural pairing but not very common. The first of its kind in the U.S. came with Native Roots in Colorado Springs who has a gas station and dispensary combination. The Gas & Grass dispensary in Portland, Maine is another business that runs a gas station and a dispensary for its medical cannabis patients.
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