The legalization of cannabis offers an array of franchising opportunities for those with the entrepreneurial drive. With over 130,000 companies created every year in Canada, franchising appeals to people who are interested in becoming an entrepreneur by drawing on an existing structure. Presenting an alternative to the traditional franchise model, Montreal-based retailer Prohibition capitalizes on the concept in an entirely new way.
Founded in 1984 by Italian immigrant Johnny Mennillo, Prohibition started out as a humble kiosk in a flea market in Montreal. Equipped with an unyielding work ethic, he quickly turned the business into a full-service retail location and, over time, a wholesale company focusing on smoking accessories.
In 2014, vice-president and Johnny’s son Christopher, with partner Brian Demers elevated the business establishing a corporate head office, increasing structure, creating key partnerships and stepping up the branding. Their vision: to help others to kick-start their entrepreneurial journeys with a franchise program that remains unique in its industry.
“I knew that building the most solid of structures into the franchise model was incredibly important,” Mennillo said.
Prohibition’s franchisees obtain vital help from the head office with securing a strategic retail location that will ensure the highest ROI. Mennillo’s team, in partnership with Canada’s largest retail real estate advisory firm, even negotiates the lease agreement,
31% of self-employed Canadians state that they work more than 50 hours per week — and depending on the industry, more can be standard. By comparison, Prohibition needs less hands-on franchisee presence. One franchisee owns two locations while still working a full-time job, putting in only a few hours per week at the retail locations.
“We are one of the easiest franchises to operate in the world,” Mennillo said. “When we decided to go the franchise route, we knew immediately we wanted to offer a partnership to our franchisees that we would be proud of.”
Built right into their model is both the dependable and ongoing support of a traditional franchise relationship, and also a personalized partnership. It is the best of both worlds for a franchisee. By listening to its franchisees, Prohibition is able to act on their feedback.
“If a franchisee has a particular idea for a local marketing campaign, for example, we’ll always take their perspective into account — we want what’s best for the brand,” Mennillo said.
Prohibition’s Facebook image keeps things light and fun but don’t let that fool you. It also includes an expert perspective on the industry. And Prohibition’s retail locations are clean, modern and professional. Prohibition also drives for real profits supporting their franchisees in keeping costs low to maximize their bottom lines. One franchisee recently reported that after a renovation just less than 2 years ago, their revenues are now almost $1.5 million.
Flexibility remains a key factor in franchise options, so Prohibition offers three levels of franchise: a mall-style kiosk with an investment level of $120,000, an express shop at $160,000, and a full-sized retail boutique at $325,000. All locations are turnkey with inventory, security systems, cash registers and anything else that an owner would need to be fully up and running.
Lots has changed since starting in that flea market 30 years ago, but the family vibe is alive and well. With 18 franchise locations (and four additional locations on the way), the Prohibition family is poised for success. Mennillo and his team have big plans for the future, too, including opening flagship stores across Canada, doubling its retail locations, and maybe even become publicly traded down the line. Prohibition and its franchisees are ready for the future.
To learn more about the Prohibition franchise
concept, visit their page here at