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'Mixed opinions': Fourth cannabis shop opens in downtown Orillia

'Downtown is all about a retail and restaurant mix, and we don’t want to lose that mix,' says chair of DOMB

A new cannabis shop has opened in Downtown Orillia, but it’s not “just another pot shop,” says general manager Joey Khan.

Bonnefire, a Toronto-based cannabis dispensary, officially opened at 34 Mississaga St. E. Friday. Khan says the business is for anybody who is interested in cannabis in any capacity.

“We like to raise awareness,” he said. “Our store is meant to be inviting and it’s meant to get away from the stigma around cannabis.”

Khan says Bonnefire will be hosting educational workshops at its Orillia location for people who would like to know more about cannabis or try it for the first time.

“This is sitting really well with our customers and demographic,” Khan said. “We find that a lot of our customers are coming in just wanting more education.”

Michael Fredson, the chair of the Downtown Orillia Management Board, says there are now four cannabis shops in the downtown core.

“There are mixed opinions about it in general,” he said. “Four seems like a lot in a single kind of business improvement area.”

Fredson says it’s just a "little bit frustrating" to see four stores of the same industry so close together in the downtown core.

“Downtown is all about a retail and restaurant mix, and we don’t want to lose that mix,” he said.

Khan says he is aware that not everybody will be welcoming of the new business but stresses that Bonnefire brings something new and unique to Orillia. 

“We are different,” he said. “I’ve always gravitated toward the small-town vibe, the culture, and the sense of community here.”

He said Orillia is the perfect spot for Bonnefire, which first applied for a licence to operate th downtown location in March of 2021, soon after they opened their first location in Toronto.

“I have childhood memories in Orillia,” Khan said. “I grew up in Toronto, but my brothers went to school in Orillia, and I would visit him every weekend.”

Khan said he and his staff plan on making an impact in Orillia that goes beyond transactions. 

“There are a lot of open-minded individuals here,” he said. “They are very welcoming of the industry in general and in our company. It’s been a very overwhelming experience.”

Despite there now being several other cannabis stores in the Orillia area, Khan isn’t worried about the competition.

“It could be a good thing,” he said. “It will give us an opportunity to stand different from our competitors.”

Aside from Orillia, Bonnefire now has two locations in Toronto and one in Brighton.

“A lot of our customers who are travelling in between cities are shopping with us consistently,” he said. “It’s amazing to see the support we are getting.”

Despite the mixed opinions and frustrations from some DOMB members, Fredson says generally cannabis storefronts are well kept and attractive.

“We generally don’t have any issues with signage or appearance,” he said. “Personally, as a store owner downtown, I haven’t noticed any issues sort of related to that.”

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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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