|As of December 13th, our new member incentive program means that when a new patient joins the club and they acknowledge on their sign-up form who referred them to join, the member who referred the new patient (the referee) will get a $20 credit applied to their account, with a few stipulations.
1) Before the credit is granted the new patient has to spend a minimum of $10 at the club.
2) The $20 credit applied to the referee has to be used all at once in a single transaction and cannot be spread across multiple transactions.
Over the years we have strived hard to avoid any gimmicks or typical sales techniques used to attract new customers because we see this work as akin to health care. It has been important to us that we are taken seriously as medical providers rather than simply another pot store looking to increase sales. A Boxing Day sale on kush might sound like a great idea for marketing but for our compassion club, it would feel more like Shoppers Drug Mart having a sale of heart medication on Valentine’s Day, it is inappropriate. Our new member incentive program is a method of reaching new networks without participating in gimmick sales tricks.
For the VCBC, it has been more important to have the lowest prices possible every day than to offer sales that are typically taken advantage of by people with more resources. Our non-profit society strives to make just enough money to keep the doors open while paying a fair wage to our employees. We sell our products with the smallest profit margins possible, typically around 25-35%, because we realize the majority of our members have a very limited income. If our suppliers drop their prices then so can we, but we cannot afford to have sales like other companies that have anywhere between 50% to 100% markup on goods.
Our reason for creating this program is simple: our sales have been dropping and we need new members. Instead of trying to advertise in a traditional method, we have decided to launch this initiative because it builds off the spirit of people helping people. One to one relationships and patients teaching each other how to use this medicine is better than any ad campaign. It is our intention to call in patients who need consistent, high quality, and high dose medicine at an affordable price by networking amongst our existing patient community. We hope this both improves our financial position as a non-profit organization, and builds our internal community.
There are several reasons why our sales have declined but certainly one of the most significant factors is that there has been a flood of cheap products across the legal stores and the underground market. We have continued working with small “ma and pa” type growers, who have grown high quality, organic herb for our patients for decades. But because they grow smaller crops their costs are higher than larger operations.
In a few cases we have even worked with growers for 20 years or longer, allowing the VCBC to have regular strains that members depend on, without depending too heavily on any one supplier.
It is no secret that most businesses in the cannabis scene are struggling finanically. Since the government made it so difficult to transition into the legal system, many producers who had operated under prohibition continued to work in the black market after legalization. During the first years of legalization supply and demand were relatively close to each other but in the last two years we have seen prices go down and quality go up in the legal market. In the black, or the green market as I like to call it, prices often have dropped below cost just to keep cash flowing.
While the sales of bud have declined at the club, we have not seen the same drop in sales of our other products.
The VCBC specializes in high dosage edibles, topicals, cookies, suppositories, capsules and CBD medicines designed for patients that are much less expensive than any comparable legal cannabis products. Our kitchen staff take great pride in consistently providing great tasting, potent edibles and other medicines, giving the VCBC control over the quality of the ingredients while keeping the costs down.
Meanwhile, the club is still waiting for a hearing from the B.C. Cannabis Secretariat regarding the $6.5 million in fines that were issued earlier this year, while also waiting for a response from Health Canada regarding its application for an exemption from the Cannabis Act. Our incredible legal team of Jack Lloyd and Kirk Tousaw have been busy filing documents and preparing evidence for any court proceedings that we might face, including a potential injunction application. The only drawback is that we have to pay a monthly fee to them, which is why we are implementing this program and considering other fundraising options.
Another way for us to draw in new members is by doing presentations at local health care facilities, though typically these require an invitation. If you are part of a group or live in a care home that has space for us to come explain the various uses of cannabis medicine, who we are and what we have to offer patients, please contact us to try and arrange a meeting. Likewise, if you are aware of any events that have information booths or speaking opportunities that fit with our general mandate, please let us know.
We look forward to breathing some new life into the organization with this incentive. Each person that joins us brings with them a wealth of connections, experiences, knowledge, skills, and dreams that adds to our collective. As time progresses, we look forward to creating new opportunities to build our community and improve our capacity to help patients. This seems like an apporpriate step towards a better future for our precious club.