In Colorado, with the snow comes the tourists. And with the tourists comes the customers.
“Like everything in those towns, tourism is what drives most of the business,” says Alex Levine, chief development officer at Green Dragon, a chain of 15 cannabis retail stores across Colorado, including three in major ski towns.
Levine estimates that, unlike in Denver, 60-70% of the business at the company’s Aspen, Breckenridge and Telluride shops are tourists, who are now making cannabis a regular part of their visits to the No. 1 skiing destination state in the country.
At Sweet Leaf Pioneer in Eagle, located right near the airport about 15 minutes outside Vail, business increases by 50% in the winter as throngs of people make their way to the mountains.
“It has been a great business in the ski towns,” says Sweet Leaf Pioneer co-founder Dieneka Manzanares, adding “We do depend on the tourists.”
And depending on tourists means doing things just a bit different, even in cannabis retail, from product selection to budtender training to merchandise and even preparing for the lean months of “mud season” when it’s just the locals.
“You’ve gotta make hay when the people are there,” says Ric Scicchitano, chief operating officer for the Telluride Bud Company.