It’s a long way from Alberta to Vankleek Hill. Likewise, it’s a long way from a hardware store to a cannabis shop.

But here we are.

The first thing that will strike you about Ingram & Sons – which opened about a week ago at 16 High Street – is its speakeasy feel, right down to the mini foyer where someone will slide open a small window to greet you and then press a buzzer to let you in to the shop. From the vintage wallpaper to the products showcased on brightly-lit shelves behind a long wraparound ‘bar’, and the blues music playing in the background, one does feel that one has entered another time.

The makeover of one of Vankleek Hill’s circa-1900 buildings to create the shop on the main floor with a residential apartment space upstairs has been ongoing for several months. Now that the shop is open and ready for business, the focus is turning to the second-floor residential space. The family cannot wait to move in to their home. A quick tour upstairs reveals a bright new space, where walls are framed but not complete yet. There are new skylights and new windows which effectively block out the sound of any street traffic.

Owners Brad and Leanne Ingram say that the creative approach to the interior is thanks to their innovative designer, who also fit in a staircase that goes right to the basement – all inside a three-storey addition to the rear of the building (the staircase area includes some storage space).

Why Vankleek Hill?

“We just fell in love with this building,” says Brad, referring to the former Blueberry Hill Bistro location.

“It was just what we were looking for. We had wanted to open a cannabis shop and everything seemed saturated, but there was no shop in Vankleek Hill and we felt this was a perfect location,” Brad continued.

Last year, Brad says that the couple had decided to say goodbye to high-pressure jobs. There was a day when they just said, ‘This is it. I don’t want the headaches.’

Brad had been working in airport operations at the Calgary airport and Leanne had been working in the oil and gas industry. The money was good but as Brad explains, “I never saw my kids. It was time for a change.”

What types of products are in the shop?

Cannabis products vary from CBD oil (Cannabidiol oil is an active ingredient found in cannabis) to bath bombs, bath salts, oils, pills, lotions and Keurig cups, the couple explained.

“We are offering the personal approach and are working clients; we really want people to come in and talk to us,” said Brad, who says the shop offers a curated selection of products.

The couple realizes that it is up to them to explain the various products and how to use them.

While he is clear that he cannot claim medicinal benefits associated with cannabis use, he knows clients who have reported improvements for various complaints, ranging from headaches to not being able to get a good night’s sleep.

“Older folks tend to use bongs (water pipes) for the nostalgia of it but younger people use it to try something new,” Brad said.

“It might surprise people to know the wide range of customers that come in here. It’s not just one age group,” said Brad.

Brad and Leanne Ingram say they have received a warm welcome since they first began their makeover at 16 High Street in Vankleek Hill to create a cannabis shop. Photo: Louise Sproule

The town has been phenomenal in welcoming the couple and their two children, according to the couple.

“The town has really embraced us; we can’t say enough about how great people have been,” Leanne and Brad agree.

Ingram & Sons is open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

“We are aiming to be an anchor in this block (of buildings),” Brad ended. With one employee so far, he hopes to expand and is proud to mention that he is a champion-level Living Wage Employer.