We were a bit tone deaf: Hobo Cannabis renamed Dutch Love after backlash

We were a bit tone deaf: Hobo Cannabis renamed Dutch Love after backlash

Hobo Cannabis has various locations in Vancouver, Kelowna and Ottawa

After facing repeated criticism for more than a year, Hobo Cannabis Company is changing its name to Dutch Love.

The business is making the switch because it wants to be inclusive and ensure no one sees its name as an effort to slight homeless people, said Jeff Donnelly, the president and chief executive of Hobo parent company, the Donnelly Group.

“We were a bit tone deaf when we came up with the name,” Donnelly said.

“One of our favourite magazines was called Hobo in the past and another amazing hotel in Denmark and as a cannabis company, we felt we had the same cultural values as some of those companies. We wanted to capitalize on the experience of cannabis… where you travel when you use it or where your mind wanders.”

The Vancouver-based Donnelly Group, which is behind restaurants like the Lamplighter Public House in Vancouver and Berlin Love in Toronto, didn’t notice too much “friction” around the name until it opened its first store in 2019, he said.

Community and housing advocates have complained about negative connotations of the word, which they call an offensive term for homeless people. Hobo drew further backlash after it opened a Toronto store near a women’s shelter.

Previously, Donnelly held strong and kept the name, telling media it was a nod to wanderlust and harkened back to the 1920s when hobos were travelling workers.

READ MORE: New joint opens its doors in Kelowna

No specific incident prompted the name change, but it came as the COVID-19 pandemic and high-profile incidents of police brutality against the Black community triggered a shift in society and culture.

“People have been empowered to speak up about what they believe in. Although we thought we really liked the culture of our brand, really it’s about our people,” Donnelly said.

“We might be excluding someone by keeping up with the name. If we wanted to truly have an inclusive brand, we felt like we were going to have to change the name.”

The company settled on Dutch Love — a reference to Amsterdam’s liberal attitude towards cannabis and the country’s key role in pot culture.

The Donnelly Group wanted to make the switch for awhile, but the change was slowed down by relationships it has with store owners.

Those with permission to call their stores Hobo were being asked to change their names after building up solid customer bases and brand recognition.

“To convince them to change the name from Hobo when the stores were doing fantastic was really, really difficult,” said Donnelly, who eventually got everyone on board.

Hobo’s 12 stores will be converted to Dutch Love within the next three weeks as Donnelly works on opening another 14 shops and continues to grapple with COVID-19.

In prior months, Ontario government regulations forced the company to close several of its stores to help stop the spread of the virus.

Though Hobo offered curbside pickup and delivery, which amounted to 20 per cent of the company’s sales at one point, the province has since stopped retailers from offering such services.

The industry has been hurt even further because Canadians are still staying home during the pandemic and the illicit market is flourishing, said Donnelly, who is lobbying for the return of delivery and curbside services.

“There’s been a lot of issues with the rollout of legal cannabis,” said Donnelly.

“While (COVID-19) has been happening, I think all the operators have been struggling to find a balance and we’re dealing with the government at every turn.”

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Kelowna pot shop looks to the future on Canada’s first cannibersary

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

cannabis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Robert Dale Stanton of Clinton was last heard from on Jan. 9, and police are asking for the public’s assistance in locating him. (Photo credit: RCMP)
Police ask for help in locating missing Clinton man

Robert Dale Stanton was last heard from on Jan. 9 and is believed to be in the Clinton/70 Mile area

From the peak of Mica Mountain in the scenic Cariboo Mountain Range, which has a view of the distant mountains in the Clearwater area, including Raft and Trophy mountains.
Teen snowmobiler says South Cariboo SAR ‘real heroes’

Youth built a snow cave after getting separated from his friends, family

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
253 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health over the weekend

More than 1,000 cases in the region remain active

South Cariboo Recreation Centre. Jen Blyth photo
CRD to apply for grant to install high-def cameras, audio at ice arenas for streaming

The cost of the project is estimated at $250,000 for installation at all three recreation facilities

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in South Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

A new video from NCCIH and BC Northern Health titled ‘Healing in Pandemic Times: Indigenous Peoples, Stigma and COVID-19’ was animated by Joanne Gervais. (Photo Provided By: NCCIH Archives)
VIDEO: Stigma against Indigenous people is a ‘social sickness’

A new short animated video is aiming to educate the public on the stigmatization

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting, not being hunted in video shot off Victoria waterfront

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

The British Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA) sent out a sharply worded release late last week, in which it noted that the Tourism Industry Association of BC recently obtained a ‘legal opinion’ on the matter (Alex Passini photo)
Hotel associations push back against any potential ban on inter-provincial, non-essential travel restrictions

B.C. Premier John Horgan is seeking legal advice on banning non-essential travel

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
COVID rapid tests in long-term care key during vaccine rollout: B.C. care providers

‘Getting kits into the hands of care providers should be a top priority,’ says former Health Minister

Most Read