Business evolved into cannabis retailer

Business evolved into cannabis retailer

By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative ReporterThe Chronicle-Journal

Tue., April 26, 20222 min. read

THUNDER BAY, ONT. — April 20, also referred to as four-20, has become the day for cannabis consumption, particularly around the hour of 4:20 p.m.

It was also a notable day for the Thunder Bay business, Rainbow on Bay and Rainbow on May, which is celebrating 30 years of customer service within the community.

What began as an adult toy and video store with cannabis accessories, has now evolved into a leading cannabis retailer with two locations and a possible third and fourth planned.

Frank Marino, owner of the stores, says they have had a loyal customer base for 30 years.

“That’s why we’re successful because we’ve been here the longest and we want to thank our customers for supporting us,” he said. “We have the lowest prices in town with free delivery and no membership required.”

The two locations of Rainbow on Bay and Rainbow on May were not merely a coincidence, rather they were the result of a business strategy that evolved from a growing competitive market.

The company was the first in the city to establish two locations. The original Rainbow on Bay opened 30 years ago on April 20 and Marino called the date “convenient” and said “it was meant to be.”

It all began with sales of adult toys and DVDs followed by an expansion into cannabis accessories. When cannabis became legal in Canada, Marino applied for licensing through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario under the Cannabis Act.

“Once licensed, you cannot sell anything else but cannabis or cannabis related items,” he said, adding that cannabis and its related products are all he sells now.

“We are definitely the superstore. We have every single thing that you need for your cannabis.”

Marino says since cannabis has become legal, more and more people are trying it and that reflects in his growing customer base.

“They’re finding in different studies that cannabidiol (CBD) helps with anxiety and other things people suffer with,” he said. “Everyone has different problems, and it seems like CBD is really helping a lot of people.”

The switch in product sales for Marino has been positive overall. But with more than 17 cannabis distributors in the city, he says the competition is vast.

“There were supposed to be all little stores like, guys like us, and big corporations that grow (cannabis) were not supposed to be allowed to sell or be part of another store. Now, these bigger corporations that grow (the product) have now opened in the city and are selling it,” he said.

“Somehow the legislation changed to allow them to sell so now they’re double dipping and then they’re selling their products almost at a loss because they have no real cost. They’re buying from themselves.”

Marino added, “The big stores weren’t supposed to be allowed to double dip — grow and have a cannabis store. It doesn’t make it a level playing field. It’s not equal.”

Meanwhile, Marino is grateful for his loyal customers over the years and looks forward to continue to serve them at any of his locations.

Anniversary celebrations will include many sales with savings for everyone.

“No one can touch 30 years,” he said.

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