NSLC Cannabis Stores

Blazing new retail trails.

Here are a couple of intense challenges:  

  1. How do you introduce a product into a retail market that did not previously exist?  (well … openly exist)
  2. How do you merchandise something that is so heavily regulated that every offering must be packaged with a single, uniform colour and a standardized font size and style?  Products are age-gated and there is no self-serve.

That’s crazy talk in traditional retail!

Breakhouse joined the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation’s retail design team to help figure out answers to these (and many other questions) as the first gen of marijuana retail experiences was set to come on line in 2018.

Despite having hundreds of products for sale, the stores would have very little to display in terms of what customers typically expect. Without enticing packaging or in-store marketing elements, the experience would need to be centred around information for customers.  

The store was a schoolroom as much as a showroom – so the team needed to make school fun and engaging. To this end, customers were provided multiple touch points, starting with a rigorously trained sales staff which could interact throughout a customer’s store visit (a visit that would last much longer than an average liquor purchase). Spread along wall units and standing height counters, areas of the store provided for visual and olfactory sampling of cannabis strains.

Information was also presented in various digital and printed formats which customers could absorb at their own pace, either by flipping through a tablet or studying the environmental graphics and displays. While keeping the viz-comm language of NSLC beverage retail, the Cannabis experience was given its own physical expression conveying a bright and fresh character grounded by the casual feel of satin-finished natural wood.  

Emergent curriculum classroom meets hip pharmacy.

Welcome desk.

Breakhouse provided the support and expertise to help us bring to life the vision we wanted to create for the Cannabis customer experience. They acted as true partners at the table, navigating an aggressive timeline to help us build the new category from the ground up.

Guided exploration.


You can’t touch … but go on, have a whiff.

All-cannabis flagship location.

Store-in-store location.

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