In some sad news that’s been making rounds over the past week, the famed Toronto cannabis supply shop and lounge HotBox has closed its doors to the public. The location, formerly stationed at 204 Augusta Ave., was a point of interest for the cannabis community. Its closure truly marks the end of an era.
The closure is part of a larger move by the province to streamline the highly-saturated cannabis market, and many more closures are likely to come. Analysts have stated that this decision, while regrettable, was also inevitable. The location was actually bought out two years ago by Friendly Stranger, another huge cannabis presence in Toronto. Friendly Stranger, however, has not yet released a statement on the matter.
Abi Roach, owner and founder of HotBox, has expressed sadness and gratitude as her chapter with HotBox comes to an end. She has also come forth about the difficulties she faced while managing HotBox. Some of these include the exclusive nature of the cannabis license lottery as well as the gentrification of Kensington Market that affected life for her and her customers.
A big part of Roach’s job was coping with the circumstances of running a cannabusiness prior to legalization. She has detailed how hard she had to fight to keep her business open, and about the police presence that often threatened HotBox’s safe atmosphere. It was Roach’s diligence and careful nature that allowed HotBox to survive as long as it did. Her passion and dedication to the cannabis community will surely be missed.
Initially a simple head shop, HotBox has been a mainstay in the Toronto cannabis scene for the past 22 years. The location featured a shop out front where visitors could buy from a selection of glass pieces, and a lounge out back for users to enjoy their flower.
The lounge has long served as a hotspot and hangout joint for Toronto cannabis users in the pre-legalization era. HotBox was no stranger to publicity, and has even seen the likes of Bill Murray and Woody Harrelson among its many visitors. Even if you haven’t been there yourself, there’s a high likelihood that you know someone that used to frequent the lounge.
The cannabis community continues to grow as the years go by, and it’s always a joy to hear about new locations and personalities emerging and making their mark. It is also unfortunate to hear that as the community grows larger, long-established figures in the scene may be cast to the wayside. Regardless, Roach’s legacy promises to inspire other members of the community to serve the public with the same hospitality she had, and the impact she made will not be forgotten.
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