How FARM Challenges the Stereotype of the Pot Shop

At FARM's new flagship dispensary in the downtown core, the cannabis industry meets high design.

Photograph by Jeffrey Bosdet.

With its elegant light fixtures, terrazzo-inspired flooring and sophisticated tile work, customers of the new FARM dispensary on Douglas Street might feel like they’ve entered a high-end cafe or wine shop — and that’s completely intentional.

“For a certain demographic, they don’t feel like they’re in a cannabis store and that makes it much easier,” says Farm co-founder Allen Spillette. “That’s really what we’re trying to accomplish: to take away the stereotypes and to have it like any other well-run business in the city.”


The Importance of Choosing the Right Location

To achieve this goal, Spillette and co-founder Michael Supowitz purchased the historic building at 1402 Douglas Street, known as the Porter Block. Originally a butcher shop, R. Porter & Sons, the two-storey, brick-and-stone building was most recently home to the Aveda Institute.

“We chose the location for a couple of reasons,” Supowitz says. “We wanted a downtown presence — and it’s a fantastic building that comes with architecture and all of this history. It was the prime canvas for us.”


Designing a Brand and Space For a Great Customer Experience

FARM worked with designer Ivan Meade of Meade Design Group to create a space that would deliver the ideal customer experience.

“When you are designing a commercial project, you have to design the focal points as one moves through the space, so in each area the customer sees something,” Meade says. “I wanted to create the whole experience with the flow.”

Meade and the FARM owners also wanted to include as many Island-sourced elements as possible, including the terrazzo-inspired flooring by Stone Design and the stained-glass window from SGO Victoria.


Selecting the Right Elements For the Business

By choosing elements such as the dramatic light fixtures, the millwork counter and the brass foot rail, Meade created an esthetic that wasn’t too traditional or too contemporary.

“Through the design, we wanted to tell the story that the space respects history and the business is trying to do it right,” Meade explains. “The subliminal messaging is that this business has been here forever and is here to stay.”

More Design Elements Inside the New FARM

All photographs by Jeffrey Bosdet

Cannabis Quick Facts

StatsCannabis is Statistics Canada’s initiative to crowdsource cannabis prices across the country. Crowdsourced data from January 25 to May 30, 2018, shows the average price per gram in B.C. was $6.91.

Canada sold just over $1 billion worth of cannabis products abroad in 2017. British Columbia accounted for 59 per cent of these sales.

In 2017, about 4.9 million Canadians aged 15 to 64 spent an estimated $5.6 billion on cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes. Of Victoria users: 13.1 per cent used it for medical purposes with a medical document; 37.4 per cent used it for medical purposes without a medical document; and 49.5 per cent used it recreationally.

In Canada, B.C. produced the most cannabis products in 2017, accounting for 36.6 per cent of total production. Quebec (31 per cent) and Ontario (22.7 per cent) were the second and third largest producers, respectively.


This article is from the August/September 2018 issue of Douglas.