Denver Cannabis Shops Gear Up For Lucrative Tourist Trade

As consumer and investor interest grows in the booming marijuana industry, it has dawned on many cannabis entrepreneurs that they may need to clean up their collective image; to step away from their product's shady past and make it more customer-friendly.

In Colorado, where sales of recreational marijuana for adults became legal on January 1, some cannabis dispensaries are now opening up tourist-oriented stores – especially in the pedestrian-friendly Lower Downtown, or LoDo, part of Denver.

One such store, Euflora, had its grand opening on Friday at a location directly on one of Denver's biggest tourist attractions – the 1.25 mile-long 16th Street Mall. Euflora's owner and manager, Jamie Perino, said she created the space to attract people such as herself – who, before she decided to invest in the enterprise, had little direct contact with marijuana.

Getting Started

Perino, whose background is in the building industry, originally thought she'd start her own grow facility. But once some prime retail space became available on the 16th Street Mall, she refocused her concept – creating a large, well-lit, high-tech, no-pressure dispensary that feels like an Apple Store.

“I took out pretty much all I had in investments, from 401Ks and IRAs throughout the year, and sunk that into this business,” Perino tells Benzinga, “got a couple of investors behind me and that's how I got started.”

Related: The Future Of Marijuana Policy: The South

Euflora also has a unique, patent-pending feature: samples in sealed, perforated containers, where potential customers can hold them up to the light and even smell the marijuana buds without touching them. And each cannabis sample is accompanied by a touch-screen computer tablet, that gives would-be customers information on each strain they're considering.

On opening day, a lot of customers at Euflora were visitors from out-of-state, who happened upon the store while taking in Denver's other sites.

“I've actually never been to a dispensary in my life, so this is my first time being here,” said 28-year-old Adam, who works in IT in Pennsylvania and asked that his last name not be used. “I was actually really excited just to see what it was all about.”

“I was just walking down 16th; it was a fluke,” said Dan Patience from Calgary, Alberta – who was in town for a business conference. “Just curiosity, absolute curiosity, I'm going to get a T-shirt, cause I can't buy [cannabis] and take it back, anyhow.”

By state law, non-Colorado residents can only purchase one-quarter of an ounce [or seven grams] of recreational marijuana in a single transaction – while Colorado residents can purchase an ounce at a time.

And given that cannabis tourists cannot take their purchases back home, dispensaries like Euflora are pre-packaging a lot of product into a one-gram sampler. “We thought about this for a long time,” Perino remembers. “When you were a little kid and you went to the candy store, you didn't want just one big, huge package of M&M's; you wanted to try a little bit of everything,,” she continued.

“So that's our thought process. We have 20 different strains. Tourists can come in and try up to seven different strains this way, rather than being stuck with just one kind.”

Adapting To Change

One block off the 16th Street Mall, the LoDo Wellness Center has also created a very welcoming atmosphere for its customers. The dispensary started as a medical marijuana facility over four years ago, and began catering to recreational users starting January 1.

In terms of tourist traffic, its location – just blocks from Coors Field and surrounded by art galleries and restaurants – couldn't be better. Haley Andrews, the Lodo Wellness Center's manager, says they have about 50 medical marijuana patients a day – along with up to 400 retail customers.

When asked to describe a typical retail cannabis customer, Andrews rolls her eyes – saying their customers run the gamut.

A lot of people come here [to Denver] for work , and so they're going to just try this out while they're here,” Andrews notes. “[But] a lot of people are coming here just for this purpose. This is the whole purpose of their trip. This is just one more thing to do while you're here in Colorado.”

Posted In: cannabiscannabis industryDenverEufloraHaley AndrewsJamie PerinoLoDo Wellness Centermarijuanamarijuana tourismmarketingmedical marijuanaRecreational MarijuanatourismNewsCommoditiesTravelRestaurantsEventsSmall BusinessHotInterviewGeneral

Ad Disclosure: The rate information is obtained by Bankrate from the listed institutions. Bankrate cannot guaranty the accuracy or availability of any rates shown above. Institutions may have different rates on their own websites than those posted on Bankrate.com. The listings that appear on this page are from companies from which this website receives compensation, which may impact how, where, and in what order products appear. This table does not include all companies or all available products.

All rates are subject to change without notice and may vary depending on location. These quotes are from banks, thrifts, and credit unions, some of whom have paid for a link to their own Web site where you can find additional information. Those with a paid link are our Advertisers. Those without a paid link are listings we obtain to improve the consumer shopping experience and are not Advertisers. To receive the Bankrate.com rate from an Advertiser, please identify yourself as a Bankrate customer. Bank and thrift deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Credit union deposits are insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

Consumer Satisfaction: Bankrate attempts to verify the accuracy and availability of its Advertisers' terms through its quality assurance process and requires Advertisers to agree to our Terms and Conditions and to adhere to our Quality Control Program. If you believe that you have received an inaccurate quote or are otherwise not satisfied with the services provided to you by the institution you choose, please click here.

Rate collection and criteria: Click here for more information on rate collection and criteria.