Like many entrepreneurs, Michael Motala was eager to take part in Canada's newly legal — and hopefully, lucrative — cannabis industry. But after less than a year of running a cannabis store on Toronto's fashionable Queen West neighbourhood, mounting competition and over-regulation are leading him to consider selling his business.
"It was an interesting experience as we were building a new business," said Motala, a Stanford University law professor who co-owns High Street Cannabis Retail with his parents. "But the space is highly restrictive and regulated to the point where it is a comedy of the absurd, if you will, with advertising and the like."
Motala has listed his retail store, which he opened in October 2020, for just under $2 million. Selling cannabis during a pandemic while adhering to a lengthy list of regulations and amid an influx of neighbouring pot stores has whittled down High Street's bottom line.
"A lot of people probably got into this thinking that it would be a gold mine, but unfortunately we're finding out that's not the case," he said. "Even on our street [near the Queen St. West and Bathurst intersection], there's three stores across from us and when we talk some tell me they make five or ten transactions a day. That's pretty much impossible to survive on."
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