On the 10th edition of our Creator Spotlight series, we are honoured to chat with a local retail pioneer who helped pave the way for cannabis legalization in Vancouver, BC. Andrea Dobbs, Co-Founder of Village Bloomery, was one of the first cannabis retailers that opened pre-legalization 7 years ago. Her passion for cannabis and education is truly inspiring and her commitment to build an inclusive community is undeniable. We are grateful to feature her today!
Introduce yourself and what do you do?
My name is Andrea Dobbs. I am the co-founder of Village Bloomery, a licensed Cannabis Retail shop in Vancouver BC. We’re celebrating our 7th year in the space and it’s been quite a ride! I wear lots of hats. I work in the shop as a bloom tender when needed, I support the curation of the menu both for Cannabis products and accessories, I work very closely with building the brand and all that it entails. I am most passionate about service design. I bring to my position 40+ years of education that is both formal in that I have a degree in design for the retail space as well as lived experience. It can feel isolating to be working in an environment that is teaming with people who come from the corporate sector as they seem to speak a different language that I am unfamiliar with but at the end of the day we are all charting new paths on the shoulders of people who created this opportunity to work in a legal cannabis marketplace. I am forever grateful for the work that was done and continues to be done to make this space more humane and inclusive.
Can you share any turning points in your career or particular moments of success?
There have been many moments over the 7 year span and they will differ greatly due to the nature of regulation. One of the most touching moments for me pre regulation was working with a family whose 94 year old father was suffering greatly under advanced Parkinsons. It was so enriching to witness how their experimentation with Cannabis not only enhanced his quality of life but it also brought them together as a family unit. They got their Dad back and that was epic. Fast forward to regulated times I can say this most recent experience we all had with the BCGEU strike was a success. It led to a victory in that we as an industry were able to put pressure on the decision makers to proceed with the promised Direct Delivery program. It was important to me that we honor the BCGEU workers as well as create an environment where we as retailers could work directly with BC’s craft/micro producers. The amount of energy that was spent behind the scenes networking and collaborating with other industry powerhouses was really affirming. It let me see that there is real potential to create a thriving and genuine Cannabis marketplace community.
Describe your cannabis use in 3 words.
Inspired. Delicious. Centering.
Describe the impact Cannabis has had on your life?
It has been huge. I’m a late bloomer and didn’t really begin to enjoy Cannabis until I was 48 years old. I approached it first as a therapeutic tool to manage my peri-menopausal experience and that was mostly centered around oil drops, topicals and CBD. Fast forward I’ve fallen in love with the plant in its many forms and I now grow it, I roll joints and smoke them daily, I occasionally enjoy bong sips ( I call it bonging) and make my own topicals and oil drops. It has greatly impacted my curiosity, my ability to play and my capacity to design solutions to trying scenarios. More recently it is supporting my exploration into meditation. Overall the impact has been positive. Being in the “Business of Cannabis” has its downsides for sure but at least for me it always comes back to the fact that I love Cannabis inside and out.
“When he asked if I”d like a puff I said yes. It was really fun. I laughed like I hadn’t laughed in a long time”
Where and when were you introduced to cannabis for the first time?
My first time was when I was 17 years old. I smoked from a joint that a boyfriend had carefully rolled. It was fun to watch him grind the flower and carefully roll it. When he asked if I”d like a puff I said yes. It was really fun. I laughed like I hadn’t laughed in a long time, I felt free to be silly and I was not concerned about being cool or sophisticated. I felt free to be me. I tried it a few times after that but found that I just felt tired so I thought Cannabis was not for me. In hindsight I wish I had known more about how cultivars and terpenes work so that I could have explored more of what worked for me. That said, I’m glad to be exploring it now because I have more freedom to focus on what I enjoy now that my kids are all grown.
What’s your favourite post-smoke activity? Workout? Food?
Ooh! So many things to choose from. Sometimes I feel like crafting, sometimes I want to do yoga, other times I want to design! It really depends. For the most part I’d say I want to do creative things. A favourite post smoke snack is a medjool date stuffed with salted crunchy peanut butter topped with a piece of 90% dark chocolate. Dreamy!
What music do you vibe to when using Cannabis?
“I’ve tried cannabis most of the ways but I’m old school and lean into joints almost exclusively”
If you could sesh with one person dead or alive, who would it be?
This made me laugh out loud. I have two choices. If the flower is activating and energetic I’d pick Marie Kondo to Spark Joy with! I just think her gentle and positive nature is intoxicating and her ability to get things sorted is epic. I have lots of Virgo in my chart and I love a good organizing session! If the cultivar leans on the chill side I’d pick Alok (alokvmenon on Insta) because their way of speaking is both touching and poetic and their sense of humour makes me think critically about how society is structured. I am enriched by just their instagram account so a session would be epic. I should mention I have zero idea if either of them are 420 friendly but there you have it!
What are your favourite ways to consume cannabis (joints, vapes, edibles, beverages etc.) and why?
Joints all day every day BUT I will admit that I enjoy beverages more than I thought I might. Joints I dig because I like seeing the flower in its full form. I like to smell it, touch it and grind it up. I like the experience of rolling it even though I am still practicing at rolling. I like the dry pull becasue it gives me information around the flavours I’m about to engage with and then I enjoy the breath work that comes with smoking. I like that it can be a social moment and I also enjoy it when I’m walking my dog alone. I like that it is an experience I can control in that I can feel the elevation real time and when I’m good I can stop. That isn’t always an option with an edible. I also like that it doesn’t last as long as some other modalities. That said, if I am looking at it from a therapeutic lense I’d lean on ingesting because 9 out of 10 times what I’m looking at is supporting my sleep and longer is better in that department. Topicals are also a love. A good bath soak/bomb is heaven and I dig all of the creams and lotions.
Is there anything interesting that you’d like to share with the Choklit Park community? (feel free to share any important projects or exciting news you’d like our community to know!)
I am so happy that Choklit Park is a community! I used to play in Choklit park when I was a kid. It was an adventre playgound in the 70’s with a huge slide and a zipline. It was a place where I felt excited about life and free to explore it so it feels kind of appropriate to be discussing Cannabis in correlation with Choklit Park. Cannabis brings out the kid in me! That sense of adventure is necessary when being in this space. It’s not for the feignt of heart. We tried opening a second shop in Victoria and it proved to be more than we could handle due to multiple challenges. We had to make the tough decision to step away from that opportunity. That was a bitter pill to swallow because we really loved Victoria. On the other hand we are working on opening a second Vancouver shop in the 2100 block of East Hastings. That’s a 5 minute walk from my house so I’m excited to be able to both live and work in my home community. The original shop in South False Creek is our rock and we feel so supported and blessed to have the support of the folks who go out of their way to support us there. It is because of that support that we feel empowered to keep working at building upon our dream.