By Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
After successfully running the historic Plaza Petals Flower Shoppe for a year, Souris entrepreneur Cindy Russell is setting her sites on bringing a different kind of greenery to her community — marijuana.
Russell, who moved to Souris, located 47 kilometres southwest of Brandon, around 17 years ago, stepped into the role of owner of Plaza Petals Flower Shoppe last June. After celebrating her one-year anniversary at the store on June 1, Russell said she’s looking forward to starting another business in the town — a cannabis store.
“I was kind of looking for something else to add 1/8to the building 3/8,” Russell said.
Partnering with Nikki Moreau, Russell’s friend and the former owner of the Plaza Petals Flower Shoppe, just made sense, since the pair have worked together before. After she applied to run the business, Russell reached out to Moreau and asked if she’d like to become partners in running the cannabis store.
So far, the community of Souris has been incredibly supportive of both the flower store and the soon-to-open cannabis store, Russell said.
“We’ve been so supported in the community, with not only our town council and staff, but also with the future customers and people that live in town coming up to us and saying that they can’t wait for it to open.”
Moreau isn’t surprised by the support and enthusiasm the cannabis store has received, saying that most people in Souris understand an “everything in moderation” approach to cannabis.
“It’s one of those new things. Like every new thing, it’s going to take a little bit 1/8to get used to 3/8, but we plan on being very professional,” she said.
Moreau and Russell said they are excited to offer a “speakeasy” sort of experience at their new store — where customers can feel free to walk in and buy what they need, but in a discreet way. The way the store is laid out now, it’s not even possible to tell that a cannabis store is in the same building as the flower shop.
“You don’t even know that it’s really in the building until you’re in the building. And if somebody does have a problem with bringing out a marked bag, we can wrap it in flower paper, like you’re taking a bunch of roses,” Russell said.
The shop will also offer home delivery and “click and collect” pickup from the flower store. In addition to marijuana in its raw form, the shop’s inventory will include edibles, chocolate drinks, lip balms, lotion and more. It will also offer cannabidiol (CBD) products, which are made of an active ingredient in cannabis that is derived from the hemp plant but does not cause a high and is not addictive. Many people, including Moreau, use it as supplements for pets with arthritis, and others ingest it to aid in sleeping, pain management and anxiety and depression.
“We want to be able to carry a diverse range of all kinds of things to be able to help anybody out there,” Russell said.
If all goes well with the final inspection from the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Canada, the store could even be open at the time this story is published. At the latest, Russell says it should be open by Canada
Taking over the flower shop and calling on Moreau for help in that process has shown just what a great partnership the two women make, Russell said.
“She’s been amazing. She comes here when I’m like, `I need you now, please!”’ Russell said. “I’m still learning. There’s so many different flowers and plants, and I was never a green thumb, so I’m learning a lot.”
It’s that ability to learn something new every day that makes Russell’s job at Plaza Petals Flower Shoppe so exciting, she said. The support that the residents of Souris have shown the shop — which has been running since 1976 — is also heartwarming, Russell said.
“We have a great community here. People get involved.”
Being able to work with flowers every day, which Russell said are a delight to the senses, is also a huge part of her job satisfaction, as is being able to help people pick out the perfect bouquet or gift for their loved ones for all sorts of different occasions.
“Coming up with something so beautiful, that’s going to make someone smile or make someone feel better, it just shows all sorts of caring that people do when they give flowers,” she said.
Moreau, who ran the shop with her mother for eight years before Russell took the reigns, says her friend has adapted incredibly well in her new role as the owner of the store, and has carried on her and her mother’s legacy of providing an important service to the people of Souris.
“She jumped right in. She’s such a quick learner,” Moreau said of Russell. “She’s so good with customers. It’s just awesome.”
The fact that the business has always been women-owned, and has always featured women supporting women, is the icing on the cake, Moreau said.
“To be able to pass it over to Cindy, who is already such a strong supporter of women in the community — there just couldn’t have been a better fit.”