THE VAPOURS CANADA OSHAWA LOCATION – A REAL-WORLD PROJECT REVIEW.
As every independent retailer knows, you have to start with what you have and grow from there. And for Vapours Canada, a leading e-cigarette retail chain with seven vape stores across Ontario, it seems that their original move into retail was only brought on by customer demand.
You see, for some time Vapours Canada didn’t even have a storefront. It was only when customer after customer from the Durham Region showed up at their manufacturing facility asking to purchase products, that the team at VC took note.
So unlike retailers who open locations to build customer demand, it was the customers themselves that demanded more locations. And because of that unique relationship and the loyalty VC was able to build with their customers, that this tribe of brand loyalists helped shape the future of Vapours Canada.
We had the chance to connect with Katie Schilling, Operations Manager at Vapours Canada and Randy Weir, Project Manager at CBSF to talk about the recent redesign and rebuild of VC’s Oshawa location.
In our conversation, we covered how design plays into experience, the lessons learned as a small retailer, and how CBSF was able to use modular design thinking to create a store design that scales with VC’s growth.
INDIE CANNABIS RETAILERS ARE A BOOMING BUSINESS
Question for Katie at VC: What was happening in the business that led to a redesign and rebuild?
“As we grew our chain from one location to seven, our retail stores had established somewhat of a look, but it was very convoluted, and maybe even a little confusing for our customers. It was time for us to establish a fresh, clean look for our stores.”
Question for Katie at VC: As you planned the redesign, what were you hoping for?
“Simply, our goal was to create a cohesive retail image across all our stores, starting with the Oshawa store, our flagship. As we approached the project, our team had a single purpose in mind: comfort and style. It was important for us to stay true to our roots and loyal customer base, so we wanted to maintain our small business feel and the welcoming environment we already established with the brand. But we also wanted to give our customers a more enjoyable shopping experience.”
HOW MODULAR DESIGN-THINKING SET VAPOURS CANADA UP FOR FUTURE GROWTH
Question for Randy at CBSF: I have to imagine as a retail environment design/build team, you look at a project like this as something more than a standard rebuild… you’re establishing a whole new standard for the chain? What special considerations go into the thinking and planning for a project like this?
“Oh for sure, the team [at CBSF] knew how important this project was for VC; their first official design and build-out. This set the standard for all future location rebuilds. So we really focused on three things:
- Upgrading the look while respecting the brand.
- Design/build everything – all fixtures, displays, checkouts, and signage to be 100% modular.
- Looking for cost-effective, smart materials and building techniques to help keep costs and disruptions to their business to a minimum”.
Question for Randy at CBSF: What do you mean by everything being 100% modular?
“Yeah, when you’re working with a national chain you get a project plan that tells you what we’re building out; 15, 25, or 100 stores… we get all the floor plans and requirements.“
When working with a smaller retailer, especially when we’re developing a new look and plan for their current and future locations, with a lot of future plans still not nailed down, we create a store in a box with different modular elements.
“So for the Oshawa location, we design-built and installed everything – but we created a plan for VC that would allow them to roll out full stores, or even just order up one-off fixtures on demand.
“So if in the future they wanted to franchise or build more corporate stores, they have everything they need. But also, if they just want to drop a new checkout in an existing store or a one-off display, we don’t have to go back and rethink everything.”
WHY A ONE-STOP SHOP LIKE CBSF MADE THE PROJECT AS SMOOTH AS POSSIBLE
Question for Katie at VC: It seems to me that selecting the right partners to help with a project like this is possibly the most important decision you and your team had to make – out of all of your options, why was CBSF selected?
“As this was our first time taking on a project of this size – really, CBSF was chosen because of its ability to handle the project in its entirety. When there are too many companies involved at different stages of the project, we felt it would leave too much room for error and miscommunication.
“Having CBSF take on the project from design to construction to finishing touches made the entire process both enjoyable and smooth. Rather than communicating with multiple companies and project leads, we had Randy, who took care of it all.
“If we needed an update, or if we had a concern, we only needed to speak with him.”
Question for Katie at VC: You bring up an interesting point, as this was the first time taking on a project like this, were there any learnings?
“Yeah, having been through it now we know a lot more about how everything works and what to expect. But as business owners, I think the biggest thing we learned was patience. You can plan, and have everything lined up, but things come up, delays happen. Sometimes they are unavoidable. So we learned you can’t rush perfection.”.
THE CUSTOMER FEEDBACK MADE IT ALL WORTH IT
Question for Katie at VC: I think the photos speak for themselves, but looking back on this rebuild, how do you and your partners feel about the project?
“The rebuild took the image of what was in our heads and made it a reality. But more than that, it gave us a clear image as a company and branding-wise.
“The customer reactions were by far the most rewarding part of the entire process. Seeing their faces when we re-opened, seeing that we took the time to invest in the retail experience, and them knowing that we want to make our stores better for the customer was priceless.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
Whether you’re launching a new independent cannabis retail business, or like Vapours Canada you’re ready to take your retail stores to the next level, the team here at CBSF can bring our full experience to your project.
Having built out over 10,000 locations and 200 million+ sq ft of retail space, we know what works, what doesn’t, and how to value-engineer a space to get the absolute most out of it.