The 11,000 square-foot experience centre is located in Phase 4 and combines two distinct components. That includes a retail cannabis store as well as an immersive experiential space. Both spaces are an age-gated retail experience with shoppers required to be a minimum age of 18 in order to enter.
Aurora’s innovative retail experience space was developed in partnership with Bruce Mau Design and Gregory McClung Architect Ltd.. The overarching design was to create a space that blends technology, innovation, and nature. The store design features the use of natural materials including quartz, oak, and opalescent panels.
The experiential space is accessible via a mall facing entrance and showcases a variety of cannabis inspired fashion, home goods and health and beauty products, along with Aurora branded merchandise. The merchandise has on the shelf pricing allowing price changes to be maintained more efficiently.
There are no cannabis products or accessories sold in the experience space. The concept is intended to introduce shoppers to cannabis culture in a safe and welcoming manner. A variety of Instagrammable moments were created in this space including a display featuring their San Rafael ’71 cannabis brand in a west coast beach moment complete with a cut out of a Volkswagen Microbus that shoppers can sit inside and a life sized floral peace sign that is inspired by their Woodstock cannabis brand.
Both moments align with their respective brands and create a memorable experience for shoppers allowinga them to snap a picture to remember their experience and share on social media.
To differentiate from a traditional retail store, the cash wrap desk in the experience area was designed as a bar. By utilizing the cash wrap desk as a bar, drinks can be served while doubling as a food prep area during special events. The bar currently serves filtered water and the setup has been future proofed to allow for other beverages to be served including a full service smoothie bar.
To encourage shoppers to lounge inside the experience space, a variety of seating areas are available including concrete bleachers with plush cushions, lit from above from a digital skylight to create the effect of natural sunlight and a clear blue sky. There is also an in-store all-gender washroom that features toiletries that are sold in-store to help immerse shoppers with the products.
To allow the space to serve multiple purposes for merchandising and special events, the store design was designed with custom fixtures and loose furniture that can be rearranged easily.
The retail cannabis space is tucked at the back of the store with both a dedicated exterior entrance near Entrance 56 in the mall, as well as access from the experiential space. Shoppers entering the selling area are paired with an Aurora Pro Sales Associate that will walk you through the space and introduce you to various cannabis products and accessories.
An Aurora Pro is provided with significant product knowledge training through an employee portal with bi-weekly webinars and monthly seminars. The Aurora Pro will assist shoppers in finding a unique cannabis experience, versus focusing on technical aspects of the product.
Shoppers will find over 42 different cannabis products from the Aurora family of brands, such as San Rafael ’71, Alta Vie, Whistler Cannabis Co and Woodstock. A unique merchandising display is the ‘Sniff Zone’, which are custom fixtures where shoppers can view the cannabis buds as well as experience the scent.
The cash wrap desk in the selling area also resembles a bar with eight registers to serve shoppers. This space was designed with clear wayfinding and distinct zones so that shoppers are not overwhelmed. It was also created to feature two of Instagrammable moments.
The first experience is a mirror and light walk through display and the second is a ‘mindfulness zone’ through headphones where you can experience a variety of cannabis related feelings such as calm and zen. This space has been designed to be configurable allowing the space to showcase Cannabis 2.0 products such as vapes, gummies and chocolates that will launch in the next few weeks. To align with Aurora’s corporate sustainability initiatives customers are invited to return their cannabis packaging in-store for recycling.
The area connecting the experiential space, cannabis space and exterior entrance features a lobby area with recessed plush seating allowing visitors a space to decompress or for visitors to sit if they are not eligible to enter the experiential or cannabis space. This wall features a mural called “Homegrown,” painted by local art collective Rust Magic. The mural is a celebration of street art and a tribute to the culture of Edmonton.
The experiential space is open mall hours with the cannabis retail space open from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm daily. In addition, there are six dedicated stalls in the parking lot reserved for Aurora Cannabis shoppers located right outside the exterior entrance. During the mall’s peak hours, these parking spaces will allow shoppers a faster shopping experience.
Aurora’s goal for this first of its kind retail experience is to educate shoppers about cannabis and help destigmatize the use of cannabis. Zamina Walji, Vice President of Retail and Consumer Strategy, describes the experience. “We want to create an inviting environment where shoppers can ask any questions that they want, that they feel like they have the time to spend in the store, that they’re not rushed to the journey of the actual transaction.”
Selecting West Edmonton Mall as flagship for the Aurora Cannabis location is ideal. According to the Retail Council of Canada Shopping Centre 2018 Study, the mall ranks as the second-busiest in the country with over 28 million shoppers visiting. Aurora Cannabis has created a space that merges retail with entertainment. Walji added, “We have the foundational elements in place to be successful.” It will be interesting to see if this retail space will resonate with shoppers.
West Edmonton Mall continues to evolve by leveraging Retailtainment through its retailers and entertainment options. It is exciting to see what 2020 will bring to the mall.