Torontonians are always in search of the next best spot, particularly when it comes to coffee, so when Tokyo Smoke popped up last April and boasted coffee, clothing and cannabis, we were intrigued. While their M.O. is pretty self-explanatory, what they don’t add to that list (though should, imo) is curated, because that’s exactly what you get with their gift offerings. We caught up with Alan Gertner, co-owner of Tokyo Smoke to chat selecting the best gift for someone and, of course, coffee and cannabis.
29Secrets: Where did the idea Tokyo Smoke come from?
Alan Gertner: I spent most of the last decade working at Google and while I was lucky to work in a great company, I felt there was something else I wanted to focus on. I had the opportunity to partner with my father and build Tokyo Smoke, which is a coffee, clothing and cannabis business. I spent a lot of time in Asia and the Japanese have a love of artisans and creating beautiful products and we wanted to highlight that in our space.
How did coffee, clothing and cannabis come together?
I think that coffee, clothing and cannabis are the creative lifeblood of the contemporary urban citizen. When it comes down to it, 10 per cent of North Americans smoke cannabis every week, 85 per cent of us drink coffee everyday and clothing is a fundamental part of our lives. We have a full coffee bar, but my favourite thing that we serve is a cré¨me bré»lé©e coffee, which is a caramelized, sugary sweet drink.
How do you work the cannabis part of the business?
Right now we don’t sell cannabis, we sell cannabis accessories. We try to curate and highlight the best products out there and help to educate our consumers on what there is available. Then as a brand, we operate in the United States and partner with the best growers that bring Tokyo Smoke cannabis to market. When the market changes in Canada, we’ll be really well prepared and ready to bring a beautiful product to Canadians. I think it’s a learning process for everybody, sometimes you take a step forward and sometimes you take a step back, but I think we have the opportunity to learn from a lot of markets that have already done this. It’s a very exciting movement and journey ahead and I look forward to that day in Canada.
What sort of lifestyle items do you sell at Tokyo Smoke?
One thing we focus on with Tokyo Smoke is trying to build a store with items that inspire us. We try to have an interesting mix that someone could walk into Tokyo Smoke and really feel like it was curated for beauty and created for design. In terms of clothes, we only stock our own brand, which we design here in Toronto and have manufactured in Europe. In addition to that, we have accessories, bags and other products that help the stage for people to feel inspired when they come into our shop.
What’s your number one tip for helping choose a curated gift for someone?
I think giving someone a gift is such a nice way to signal that you’re thinking about them. One thing I always think about is what captures somebody’s curiosity, what drives their creativity and the love in their lives and I seek ideas from that field. If it’s someone who has a passion for coffee, I try to look at the beautiful, interesting things in the coffee space.
To see some of Tokyo Smoke’s gift ideas (perfect for Valentine’s Day), see the gallery below: