Scarlet Fire Canada Cannabis Dispensary, David Ellison Ontario Shop, Canadian Store Building, Architecture Images
Scarlet Fire Cannabis Dispensary in Toronto
11 Aug 2021
Design: SevenPoint Interiors
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Scarlet Fire Cannabis Dispensary
The unexpected, one-of-a-kind store celebrates Dead Head founder David Ellison’s passion for cannabis, music, magic, and psychedelia
Former Toronto securities lawyer, David Ellison, tuned in, turned on and dropped out of the rat race to open a Grateful Dead inspired cannabis store Scarlet Fire Cannabis Co., that Marijuana Venture Magazine calls “a dispensary experience unlike any other”. The offbeat and funky cannabis retail store reflects the founder’s love for the iconic American counterculture band where Dead Heads and those looking to experience the band’s magic can revel in mesmerizing decor and wax cosmic with the highly knowledgeable team of cannabis experts while listening to the Grateful Dead and other jam bands the Dead inspired.
The store was designed by SevenPoint Interiors, an acclaimed design and manufacturing firm specializing in cannabis retail. The team transformed what had been a soulless check-cashing store into a colorful, sophisticated tribute to the iconic band’s aesthetic with the intention to transport customers to an altered state of consciousness. Outside the front window, people first see a series of portholes cut through scarlet-stained panels backdropped by a circular screen of moving psychedelic images—dubbed “The Rabbit Hole”. This creates a somewhat hallucinatory optical illusion to curious passersby that often stop and curiously stare at the unique psychedelic visual trying to figure out what it is. Once inside the store, customers realize what they saw was not an illusion, but in fact very real and entirely different from what they thought they saw from outside.
“At Scarlet Fire, we wanted to create a customer engagement so different from what they are used to,” says Ellison. “We start our customers on a journey and educate them. We’ve created a place where cannabis, music, magic, and psychedelia merge.”
The design of Scarlet Fire provides Dead Heads and non-DeadHeads alike with a visual glimpse into the band’s magical ability to create a one-of-a-kind psychedelic experience. The aesthetic also brings in a chill recording studio vibe with the “Dave’s Picks” section, which is home to the always changing best products in the store collaboratively chosen by the store’s staff.
The “Wall of Sound,” a replica of the Dead’s mammoth touring sound system that allowed sound to travel for one mile without distortion, sets the stage behind the POS cash desk. The store is tastefully adorned with Ellison’s personal collection of Grateful Dead memorabilia, gathered from his more than thirty-year long, strange trip chasing the Grateful Dead and the ultimate psychedelic experience. The display includes Jerry Garcia replica guitars, album covers, tour posters, and T-shirts. Perhaps the most beloved piece in the collection is Ellison’s first Grateful Dead T-shirt, purchased at a Florida flea market when he was 16 years old.
Ellison first attended a Grateful Dead’s concert in Clarkson, Michigan at the age of 17 and that experience transcended that of anything else he had ever experienced before.
“I tumbled down a rabbit hole big time that day,” Ellison explains, reminiscing about his first Grateful Dead experience. “I’m happy that I never found my way out. In fact, I’m still tumbling. There are two types of people in the world: those who collect things to put on their shelves and those who collect experiences. I consider myself part of the latter group. Every Grateful Dead show is different, and chasing the Dead is the last great American adventure, the last piece of real magic that exists in the world. I wanted to bring that magic and sense of adventure to my shop.”
Scarlet Fire staffers include pioneers in the Ontario legal weed scene, and leaders in cannabis education. They bring that expertise to every conversation with customers, teaching more than selling, about the subtleties of the store’s top shelf craft cannabis inventory. Visitors are invited to hang out and talk about weed, music, the Dead, or whatever is on their minds, without a focus on customer turnover. Scarlet Fire uses its display space as an educational tool.
Called Terpene Station, a play off the name of the Grateful Dead’s 1977 album, Terrapin Station, the display wall helps explain the value of the many different aromatic oils found in cannabis, called terpenes. Ellison explains. “Some terpenes will add or potentiate psychotropic effects, while others may have analgesic or anti-inflammatory effects. We have customers come asking for the weed that has the highest THC. When customers return asking for the weed that has the highest terpene count, that’s when I know we have been successful at what we set out to do.”
Scarlet Fire is proud to offer a curated selection of high-quality craft grown cannabis from growers that puts the consumer first and ahead of the bottom line. The aim is to ensure that the consumer is getting the best weed for the fairest price, maintaining a relationship of mutual respect. Scarlet Fire’s General Manager and Head Cannabis Curator, Moe Berghaus, does a serious deep dive into the growing practices of any grower before Scarlet Fire decides to carry their products. “Ultimately, it’s our reputation that’s on the line,” says Berghaus. “I look for growers that grow in small batches, hang dry, hand trim, meticulously cure and hand package their cannabis. Those are the growers that put the consumer first.”
Scarlet Fire, in different and creative ways, tries to incorporate the unique interactive experience of a live Dead show between the band and the audience into the customer’s shopping experience. Inspired by the Grateful Dead song “Candyman”, Scarlet Fire has introduced the Laughing Bones Loyalty Program, which awards customers with points for every purchase made. Once customers reach a certain points level, they can redeem those points for a roll of two giant foam dice and receive a 5%-20% discount. Scarlet Fire even offers free slushies to its loyalty members, a perfect treat to mix with the dissolvable THC powder Scarlet Fire sells.
“We’re real and passionate weed smokers,” says Ellison. “The other stores are corporations. Scarlet Fire was built by passionate cannabis users, for passionate cannabis users. We’re here to share that passion and pay it forward. We’re here to do it ‘no particular way but our own,’” quoting a line from the Grateful Dead song, Eyes of the World.
Scarlet Fire is located at 3852 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
About Scarlet Fire Cannabis Co
thermecanada.comScarlet Fire is an independent cannabis dispensary located in Toronto, Ontario, founded by former securities lawyer David Ellison. Ellison left his career as a lawyer to pursue his passion for the rapidly growing cannabis industry, as well as to form a tribute to his favorite band, The Grateful Dead. His goal has been to embody the psychedelic experience of attending a Dead performance, elevating the consumer to an altered plane of consciousness. The customer-friendly, easy-to-shop store retains a focus on connoisseur-quality cannabis that is carefully crafted by artisanal growers and processors who put art and love into their products.
Scarlet Fire Cannabis Dispensary, Toronto images / information received 110821 from SevenPoint Interiors
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