Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

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February 5, 2014
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Carbondale sees increase in shoppers, tourists since retail marijuana sales began

Becoming the first retail marijuana shop on the Western Slope of Colorado was a major financial boon for the Doctor’s Garden, but it appears the marijuana dispensary isn’t the only one garnering new business in Carbondale.

Businesses on Main Street in Carbondale located near the dispensary reported a spike in customers starting on Jan. 15, the day Doctor’s Garden began selling retail marijuana.

The Carbondale Food Co-op is located across Main Street from the Jalins Building where the Doctor’s Garden is located. Cody Lee is an employee at the co-op and said there was a definite increase in people milling around town once the retail marijuana was available.

“It seemed a lot more like a summer crowd with all the people trickling in,” Lee said. “We sold lots of snacks and drinks in that time. I also noticed a lot more out-of-towners coming into the co-op. I met four Hungarian guys from Florida that were staying in Salt Lake City and made the trip from Utah to Carbondale just to buy weed.”

Peppino’s Pizza is located next to the Jalins Building. Owner Carol Bruno said noticed plenty of new faces coming into her restaurant, especially the first few days following Jan. 15.

“Having the first retail marijuana dispensary in the valley brings a little more weirdness to this area,” Bruno said with a smile. “The guys at Doctor’s Garden are really good neighbors. What was kind of surprising was how normal the people were that were coming to Carbondale to buy marijuana. It wasn’t the ‘stoner’ crowd I expected, but an older, normal clientele.”

Calls inquiring about where to buy retail marijuana continue to come to the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce. Andrea Stewart is the executive director of the Carbondale chamber and said there’s been a definite increase in visitor information requests directly related to retail marijuana.

During the X Games, the chamber fielded a call from a recreational ski club based in Florida that brought 450 people to stay in Snowmass and wanted to come visit Carbondale and check out the Doctor’s Garden.

Stewart also said the demographics of the people calling surprised her. It wasn’t the younger crowd she expected, but more of a 50-plus age group.

“We’re kind of in our off-season in Carbondale,” Stewart said. “But the retail marijuana business has brought people to town that normally wouldn’t be here. We’re really hoping it brings people back.”

Stewart said she had a recent conversation with one of the co-owners of Bonfire Coffee on Main Street and said they also had a substantial increase in business that correlated with the availability of retail marijuana in Carbondale.

Bonfire employee Montana Miller said he talked with many people that weren’t from Carbondale and seemed to really enjoy discovering a new place to visit.

“Bringing in people from outside of Carbondale can only help business,” Miller said. “The Doctor’s Garden brought in a significant amount of people that haven’t been here before. I heard a few say they were coming back for sure and that’s very cool.”

This past weekend, a couple from the U.S. Virgin Islands that were staying in Aspen drove to Carbondale just to check out the retail shop. Because marijuana is still illegal there, the couple didn’t want to give out their names.

“We can’t believe how beautiful this town and Mount Sopris are,” they said. “We’ve already seen a dozen people go into the dispensary to look for marijuana. It’s obvious this business is bringing people here. It brought us here and now we love Carbondale.”

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com

“It seemed a lot more like a summer crowd with all the people trickling in. We sold lots of snacks and drinks in that time. I also noticed a lot more out-of-towners coming into the co-op. I met four Hungarian guys from Florida that were staying in Salt Lake City and made the trip from Utah to Carbondale just to buy weed.”
Cody Lee
Employee at Carbondale Food Co-op


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The Post Independent Updated Feb 20, 2014 05:06PM Published Mar 25, 2014 02:47PM Copyright 2014 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.