Recreational Cannabis

Paving the Way

Dave DiPersio

Dave DiPersio

With over 25 years of retail experience on his resume, Dave DiPersio embraced the groundbreaking opportunity to prepare the NSLC to offer recreational cannabis to Nova Scotians. 

“As Canadians we all knew legalization of cannabis was coming and the NSLC may have some role to play,” said Dave, Senior VP & Chief Services Officer. “But when the Province announced in December the NSLC would be the sole retailer for recreational cannabis it was the most significant change to our business since we opened our doors in the 1930s.” 

Teams of employees across the corporation immediately began to develop plans with stringent deadlines. They welcomed the new challenge, paving the way for the NSLC to be ready to offer recreational cannabis as soon as it became legal by federal legislation. 

Dave was excited the corporation would be the global pioneer of a new approach, offering a cannabis section within 11 of our beverage alcohol stores across the province plus a stand-alone store on Clyde Street in Halifax. The entire organization supported developing an execution plan to responsibly offer recreational cannabis – a move that put the NSLC on the path to filling the most new jobs it had seen since the 1990s. 

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“We have an amazing team of people here who know what they’re doing and applied their knowledge and skills to another product category,” Dave said. “We delivered on bold deadlines and by the end of the fiscal year we were well on our journey.”  

…when the Province announced in December the NSLC would be the sole retailer for recreational cannabis it was the most significant change to our business since we opened our doors in the 1930s.
— Dave DiPersio

Our employees ensured our approach to offer recreational cannabis will be an extension of our brand – that it will look and feel like us. That includes providing quality selection, informed employees, a bright and inviting store atmosphere and information on responsible consumption. 

The NSLC had the retail infrastructure in place and decided to offer recreational cannabis with a category management methodology – like we do with beverage alcohol. We also leveraged the corporate social responsibility programs we had in place to support this new category. These programs focus on providing a safe, inviting and engaging retail experience and promote responsible use and consumption. 

Employees drew on every aspect of our KORE values as they supported the responsible offering of this new product category. Our foundational values of Knowledge, Optimism, Responsibility, Respectfulness and Engagement were the lens through which each decision was made. 

The corporation issued a Request for Information in January to get a better understanding of the cannabis market in terms of suppliers and the volume of product they would be able to provide to the corporation. Teams conducted due diligence on potential suppliers as others got to work developing a platform for online cannabis sales. The result will be a website that closely resembles myNSLC.com, ensuring customers have a similar experience whether they’re on the beverage alcohol or new cannabis website. And we have committed that these online orders will be shipped directly to the customer’s home. 

Our Corporate Social Responsibility team met with industry leaders, licensed producers, other liquor jurisdictions, MADD Canada and with student and administrative representatives from local universities. We all worked collaboratively to weave cannabis into existing responsible retailing and consumption programs. 

We selected stores in populated and geographically diverse areas that could be renovated on time and we issued an Expression of Interest to secure our initial supply of cannabis for recreational use. Before the end of FY18, we had a fresh, modern and inviting store design in place. It is consistent with our brand yet ensures the inside of the store is concealed from the view of customers, as required by federal regulations. 

Significant progress was also made in the development of a new supply chain to support cannabis, consumer education and employee education programs, as well as a Service Excellence model to support the in-store and e-commerce experience.  

The work accomplished was nothing less than astonishing. “I’m so proud of the teams across the business for pulling together to make this happen,” Dave said. “I’m excited to see what the coming year brings as all this hard work comes together through the successful offering of recreational cannabis.”