Marijuana was made federally legal in Canada in October 2018. As a result, you can expect a mad rush of new dispensaries and companies selling all manner of weed-related items. These firms face stiff competition from established brands, and few are as highly-regarded as Tokyo Smoke, a company that considers itself a ‘lifestyle brand’ rather than a mere marijuana business.
The Formation of Tokyo Smoke
The brand was developed by a father and son team with a shared love of weed, and serious business acumen. Lorne Gertner is a man far ahead of the game. He founded Cannastat Therapeutics in 2004; it was the first legal medical marijuana grower in the whole of Canada. It was an enormous risk at the time because weed had yet to take off in Canada.
With the aid of his son, Alan, Gertner took what appeared to be another major risk; one which has paid off handsomely. Alan believed in his father’s vision so much that he quit his job as a Google executive to help. Together, the duo founded Tokyo Smoke in April 2015. The West Queen West neighborhood in Toronto was the site of the store.
It seems like a Home Run now, but remember, Canada was a long way from legalizing recreational cannabis at that point. There were a few dispensaries and licensed producers who shipped product around the country, but it was definitely a gamble to plow money into a marijuana-based business.
The Gertners are clever men and proved it by initially opening Tokyo Smoke as a high-class coffee shop. There’s no question that the business was inspired by the legendary coffee shops of Amsterdam, but in 2015, the Gertners needed to rely on the legal commodity of coffee; which is consumed by over 65% of Canadians each day. While the Amsterdam shops are seedy and dark, Tokyo Smoke is elegant and upmarket.
The emphasis on chic paid dividends when the company started to win numerous awards and increase its profile. Interior Design magazine named it as one of the Top 4 designed coffee shops in the world! Tokyo Smoke won Brand of the Year at the Canadian Cannabis Awards in 2017 and acquired a couple of marijuana companies in the same year: Van der Pop and Hiku Brands Company Ltd.
The Growth of Tokyo Smoke
Even though you are not allowed to smoke in the shop, it has still gained a reputation as a cool hangout for people who love the herb. It certainly helps that you can now legally purchase marijuana, paraphernalia, and accessories from the brand. Tokyo Smoke was finally able to launch a line of marijuana strains in 2019 once full legalization became official. Now, you can sip your espresso and dream of the perfect strain for your needs.
It hasn’t taken long for the brand to expand either. At the time of writing, there are six Tokyo Smoke cannabis stores and five coffee shops in Canada. The latest smoke shop opened in Oshawa in July 2019, and its development was a clear sign of the lure the brand has for companies seeking a partnership.
The smoke shop was originally called Fabulous Leaf and was due to open in April 2019. However, extensive delays forced its owner, Jacob Stevens, to change course and partner with Tokyo Smoke; primarily due to the brand’s major presence. Stevens admits that most of the delay was due to his quest to find the right partner.
The delays cost him his $50,000 letter of credit, but far from being angry, Stevens views it as a learning curve. It is highly likely that Stevens will earn a lot more than $50,000 in the long run! The store attracted a long queue of curious customers, and sells 109 marijuana strains! There special sections such as ‘go,’ ‘rise,’ ‘ease’ which signify the likely effect of the strain. At present, the strains at the Oshawa store cost from $8 to $18 per gram.
Step inside any Tokyo Smoke cannabis store, and you are presented with a huge array of options. The idea of ‘tailoring’ the marijuana experience to each customer seems to be a part of how the brand wishes to operate. As for the coffee shops, patrons suggest it is an immersive experience; aided by the stunning design in each location.
What’s on Offer at Tokyo Smoke?
Fortunately, you don’t have to travel to a Tokyo Smoke location to benefit from its unique range of products. Visit the official Tokyo Smoke website and marvel at the selection of marijuana-related goodies. The design of the website is as sleek as one would expect from the brand.
It is a bit like a candy shop for marijuana lovers. There are dozens of strains available; and as already mentioned, Tokyo Smoke has divided them into five distinct categories:
As the names suggest, ‘Go’ is the strain of choice if you want to feel more energized, whereas ‘Ease’ is the right option for relaxation. The strains themselves are of premium quality. Tokyo Smoke ‘Go’ for example, is a sativa-dominant hybrid with between 17% and 27% THC. It costs $42 CAD for 3.5 grams or $79 CAD for 7 grams. The latter works out at around $240-$245 USD per ounce in case you were wondering.
Among the more expensive weed strains is Edison Reserve La Strada Reserve, which costs a reasonable $93 CAD for a quarter of an ounce. Tokyo Smoke also sells cannabis oil, capsules, and pre-rolls.
The list of accessories is equally impressive. Tokyo Smoke has its own branded line of goods including lighters, grinders, a burn kit, rolling trays, and clothing. Go to the Oh Happy Daze collection, and you’ll see a group of premium grade vaporizers such as the Davinci IQ, Pax 3, and Vapium Lite. You can purchase rolling papers, pipes, beakers, and oil infusers. Basically, whatever weed-related item you want, Tokyo Smoke probably has it.
Another impressive feature of the Tokyo Smoke website is the depth of information it contains. The brand clearly isn’t interested in just selling products; it wants to educate marijuana users. The Higher Learning section has the potential to be an outstanding resource and includes articles on THC to CBD ratios, what cannabis capsules are, and a guide on what to do when going to a dispensary for the first time.
This section is relatively new and was only added in April 2019. Presumably, it will continue adding informative content as the site grows.
Final Thoughts on Tokyo Smoke
It is a brand that stands out even in an ultra-competitive industry. In just four years, Tokyo Smoke has expanded to 11 locations. Whether you want to chill out in a uniquely designed coffee shop or find a marijuana strain or accessory you need, this company has you covered.
Given its already strong presence in the market, there seems little doubt that Tokyo Smoke will continue to grow as the marijuana industry starts to thrive in North America. Around 40% of Canadians admit to having tried weed at least once, a figure that is likely to increase now that federal prohibition is dead. Tokyo Smoke will rise with the industry, and is currently the gold standard of the cannabis consumer experience.