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Customer Story: A First-Round Ontario Cannabis Lottery Winner Shares His Struggle for Retail Success

Cova-Sessions-Case-Study_Email-Header-1On the heels of Ontario’s second cannabis store lottery, 42 hopeful marijuana retailers are scrambling to complete their applications and open their doors as quickly as they can. And though the process for this second wave of licensing is rigorous, it pales in comparison to what the first-round winners went through.

Just ask Steven Fry.

As the owner and operator of one of Canada’s highest performing stores to date and, most recently, the CEO and President of a cannabis retail branding and management consulting firm, Steven chronicled his journey into marijuana entrepreneurship in a Toronto Life article, “Confessions of a Legal Pot Dealer.” The gripping account offers a brutally honest look at the hurdles and triumphs he’s experienced and highlights just how trying the process can be.

But for all the challenges he and his business partner Darryl Allen have faced so far in their cannabis careers, the duo say dispensary technology isn’t one of them — and they credit Cova with providing the critical digital tools and support that have helped them propel their businesses to the forefront of Ontario’s cannabis retail scene.

Proven Reliability

Since its serendipitous opening on 4/20, Canna Cabana Hamilton has distinguished itself as one of the busiest cannabis retailers in the country — which means Steven and his staff have truly put Cova through its paces.

“This system allows us to transact really quickly,” he says. “We’ve seen up to 2,000 customers in a day, and Cova has kept up with those demands.

“During those peak times we’ll have three customers checking out every minute, and you’ve got to have the infrastructure there to support that… Cova’s doing a bang-up job.”

This proven dependability is a key reason why Steven and Darryl have also named Cova their point of sale (POS) of choice for Sessions Cannabis, the pair’s branding and consulting agency that will soon be rolling out cannabis retailers across Ontario. But according to Darryl, that’s not the only area in which Cova shines.

Partners in Success

While a reliable POS and inventory control system is vital for dispensary success, there’s more to it than that. The industry is still in its infancy, and cannabis operators need to know that their digital platforms can keep up with the constant changes and quickly adapt to new requirements.

“Cova is constantly evolving,” Darryl says. “I’ve been really, really impressed, because they’re iterating every week. The headaches they’ve helped solve just with automated reporting alone are astronomical… they’re always working to improve the product.”

“I think what really sets Cova apart the most is the level of partnership,” Steven adds. “The product is becoming better and more sophisticated, and they always come to the table ready to collaborate and work together to bring about solutions to new challenges as they arise.”

Advice for New Retailers

As Steven and Darryl have consulted with winners of Ontario’s second retail lottery, they’ve had a chance to pass down some hard-earned wisdom — and they both agree that a passion for cannabis is critical.

“Don’t do it for the money,” Steven advises. “You have to have a love for commerce, for retail, and, most importantly, for cannabis… you’re not going to make it long-term in this game without passion.”

“Everyone is lawyering up, but not enough people are getting an accountant before diving into partnerships,” Darryl adds. “Seek guidance from fellow retailers, network with them, and reach out.”

If there’s one thing new store owners can take from Steven and Darryl’s story, it’s that the road to cannabis retail success is not an easy one. Making it in this business requires grit, dogged determination, and a genuine love for the industry. But they’re also quick to point out that their journey would have been significantly more difficult without a robust, responsive cannabis POS system and support team in their corner. Get an up-close look at all the reasons why they recommend Cova to their Sessions Cannabis clients by contacting Cova today.


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