One BC company is taking a different approach to entering the micro cannabis market, pivoting away from growing and looking instead to help other growers make it to market.
The new company is the brainchild of Dylan King and Andrew Collins who say their plans for entering the cannabis industry shifted after having conversations with numerous standard and micro growers across BC and seeing some of the challenges they were facing in getting product into the market.
The two partners have spent the last year visiting growers and building relationships, even investing in one micro, in order to find some of the best BC bud on the market to sell under their Pistol and Paris brand. The fruits of all that work will soon result in their first product hitting Alberta and BC shelves.
“With roots going back over 2 decades in the legacy market,” says King, the company’s founder, “Pistol and Paris can really relate to those trying to get to market. There is a comfort level with these (BC growers), where they really open up to us as they know we have been through the struggles they have getting to this point.”
“We had our plans drawn up to do a farm at a property we own,” he explains. “But as we’ve been touring around, seeing the struggles that all the micros and LPs are under, just in moving products, Collins and I saw a hole in the market for someone like us to come in and help these existing companies succeed while selling under our brand.”
In addition to helping get their product to market, Pistol and Paris is also looking to invest in some growers to help them navigate their first few years as they build out their business.
“We’re going to help them get their product to market under our brand,” says Collins. “But we’re also investing in a relationship with a processor to help them grow their business, which is good for our model because it will help us get our product to market faster.”
“We have built a dynamic team around us of very successful women who have over 20 years combined experience in the cannabis space,” adds King. “We have a Director of Business Development, also a Website Marketing and an expert in the retail space and also social media. Plus we just hired Lance in the Okanagan area who’s hunting for Micros and LP’s with great gear to put under our brand.”
One way they want to distinguish themselves from other third-party sellers buying products from micros and other licence holders, explains Collins, is by offering cash up-front for most purchases, rather than taking product on consignment.
Because provincial distributors generally have a window of several weeks or even months between receiving a product and payment for that product, this can put a lot of financial pressure on growers, especially small-scale growers without much cash on hand. By buying the product outright, Pistol and Paris want to show they are looking to build long-term partnerships rather than predatory relationships.
In addition, many growers only want to grow and aren’t interested in investing the time and resources into building consumer brands and developing the relationships necessary to get into retail channels.
“It’s tough,” says King. “You need capital, you need to know how to grow killer gear, and you need to know how to run a business. You need all three of those to survive, and I think a lot get into this market without knowing how to do all three. But you’re not going to survive unless you have all three things.”
“It’s a tough battle, to both grow a really great product and then to get it to store shelves, and everything in between,” King continues. “It’s a lot of work for a lot of these guys who maybe just want to focus on growing killer gear. Getting licenced is probably the easiest thing. If you’re determined and chipping away at it every day, you’re going to get licensed. It’s everything else that you have to put the time and work and meet the right people and have the right team around you. That’s the harder part.”
“What we want to do is help them with that,” adds Collins. “A lot of (smaller growers) don’t know how to get to market, but they’re also not necessarily well-capitalized or they’re just getting going and some of the companies they’re selling to are consignment based models, where they can’t necessarily wait that few months to get their payment because they’ve got operating costs. So what we’re doing is coming in with cash and, depending on the deal, we can either cash them out or if it’s a bit more of a premium product, we can pay 50% upfront with a good COA and then the additional 50% when we get our money from the provinces.”
Although Pistol and Paris is not a licence holder themselves, they’re working with a BC-based micro processor,with their own sales licence—is able to get P&P’s products to market.
Ultimately, they do hope to move forward with their own production licence. By first building their brand through their relationships with quality BC growers, they hope to be able to then build a market share that their own product can fill down the road, as well.
“As we evolve as a company we want to be able to tell the grower’s stories, the different regions they are grown in, and that will help us build our own brand and profile, too,” says Collins. “And then when we’re ready our own product can fit nicely into that established brand.”
The two hope their approach will build long-term relationships in BC, where they are currently focussed.
“BC Bud is the most well-known bud in the world, so we want to really highlight BC Bud,” says King. “We’re looking for great gear, we’re looking for good relationships with growers. We’re looking to work with them. If they don’t succeed, then we can’t succeed either. That’s why we’re open to talking to everyone and have invested in one grower and are looking to help others.”
“We’re there to help them succeed,” says Collins. “We want to do fair pricing, we have cash on hand, we’re building a good business model that we want to succeed in the long run, and we want to be the go-to guys where these growers can get a fair price and not have to wait months and months for payment”.
Content sponsored by: Pistol and Paris