Vancouver’s Donnelly Group to launch nine-store cannabis retail chain

Business In Vancouver

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Longtime pub operator Jeff Donnelly plans to launch a chain of nine cannabis stores branded Hobo Recreational Cannabis, which he expects to open in quick succession starting in April, he confirmed March 11.

Eight of those stores will be in B.C., with one in Ottawa. Vancouver locations will include outlets on Granville Street, Main Street and Commercial Drive.

Cannabis/Shutterstock

The stores will operate under his Donnelly Group, which in Vancouver also operates 10 pubs, two cocktail lounges, five barbershops and a restaurant. His Vancouver-based venture also operates in Toronto: four pubs, a cocktail club, two barbershops and a café.

It has been rumoured for months that Donnelly would enter the cannabis retail sector and Donnelly has attended cannabis-related events hosted by Business in Vancouver.

“While the venture may be new, our ethos remains the same,” he said in a March 11 release. “Be true to yourself and your neighbourhood; the people will follow.”

In order to open in Ontario, Donnelly acquired one of the 25 cannabis licences that the Ontario government is granting to entrepreneurs after it held a lottery-style system to determine which applicants would be allowed to open stores.

Only five of those licences are for stores that could open in Eastern Ontario, and Donnelly’s store will be on Bank Street in Ottawa’s Centretown neighbourhood.

Plans for a cannabis store at that location went public last month when an application from Karan Someshwar was posted on the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario website. The public has until March 12 to oppose the application.

Jeff Donnelly has 26 businesses that are either pubs, cocktail lounges, barbershops or eateries in addition to his planned nine cannabis stores. Dominic Schaefer/BIV files

The name Hobo caused a buzz among some Twitter users.

“Some people got quite creative naming the first round of retail cannabis stores in Ontario. The Hunny Pot, Ganjika House, Smok and Choom are all pretty sweet, but Hobo Recreational Cannabis Store?? Can’t beat it,” wrote Saira Peesker on her @Peesker account.

Donnelly did not immediately return BIV’s request for an interview to explain how he came up with that name.

His news release noted that each store would “reflect its host neighbourhood and feature elements of the community’s aesthetic amid a welcoming atmosphere.”