Second Cup wants to convert some of its coffee shops into weed stores

The popular coffee chain is teaming up with National Access Cannabis to sell weed in Ontario.
August 16, 2018, 2:49pm
Canadian Press Images

Second Cup, the largest Canadian specialty coffee retailer might soon be adding a new offering to its menu — cannabis.

The company announced today that it has begun “actively reviewing potential Second Cup locations in Ontario” that could be converted into cannabis retail stores, in light of a recent decision by Ontario’s Conservative government to open up the cannabis retail market to the private sector.

The Second Cup stores that end up being picked to sell cannabis will do so under the brand and banner of Meta Cannabis Supply Co. (META), a retail cannabis store brand owned by National Access Cannabis (NAC), a chain of medical cannabis clinics headquartered in Ottawa.

“The conversion of any Second Cup cafe to a META recreational cannabis store will be conditional on obtaining a retail license from provincial regulators,” said a press statement released by Second Cup and NAC this morning.

The Second Cup-NAC partnership began in April, when both companies announced that they planned to convert Second Cup coffee spots in Western Canada into META stores selling cannabis — Manitoba, B.C, and Alberta have long planned to allow private retailers to operate in the cannabis market post-legalization. The announcement today is an expansion of that partnership to Ontario.

“Second Cup has exceptional quality real estate in locations throughout Ontario, and we plan to leverage this to provide safe and responsible access to legal cannabis,” NAC’s CEO Mark Goliger said in the press release.

In April, Goliger told VICE News that the primary motivation for NAC to join forces with Second Cup was because the coffee chain had “one of the best real estate portfolios for retail.”

Second Cup, once the leading specialty coffee retailer in Canada, has been struggling financially in the last decade or so, losing out to more dominant players like Tim Hortons and Starbucks. In 2017 for instance, Second Cup brought in just $110,000 in net income — grabbing a piece of the lucrative cannabis pie could potentially boost business for the coffee chain.

NAC’s META retail plan is planning to open up 50 to 70 retail stores across Alberta, B.C. and Manitoba, and is currently recruiting approximately 700 employees in the lead up to recreational legalization.