CEO ‘blown away’ as Parachute pioneers drive-thru pot
April 20, 2017
PARACHUTE — A steady flow of cars waited around the block Thursday afternoon outside the Tumbleweed Express to be among the first customers of the town's new — and the state's first — drive-thru marijuana retail store.
The event drew food trucks, camera crews filming for the "Today Show" and other national programs. Despite a little rain, nothing was going to spoil the grand opening that has turned a local shop into an industry forerunner.
"I didn't set out thinking this would be national news," CEO Mark Smith said. "I didn't have some big epiphany. I just saw a need for our customers."
Ever since the project was announced, employees at both the drive-thru and nearby storefront location have been inundated with social media shout-outs and direct messages from customers excited to test out first drive-thru dispensary in Colorado and perhaps the nation.
"To have people wait in line when there's a store next door just to go through the drive-thru is amazing," Smith exclaimed. "I'm blown away by the response we got."
One employee even admitted that she knew of friends driving from Ohio just to check out the drive-thru, according to Smith.
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"I thought it was so cool I decided to go through twice," said Silt resident Pete Toborek, who likely became the shop's first repeat customer less than an hour into the opening.
Evan Eastham, who arrived from Grand Junction nearly two hours before the opening, couldn't get over how convenient an option the drive-thru now is for Parachute and nearby residents.
"It's pretty cool to see a drive-thru here seeing as how Grand Junction doesn't have any recreational marijuana," he added.
Parachute resident Deanna Seitz watched from the sidelines as the customers rolled through. She said she can't wait to see what all the publicity will do for the town.
"It's like having Disneyland open," she admitted. "I think for a lot of people that didn't know where Parachute was before, this will help put the town on the map."
The original Tumbleweed store opened in Parachute in February 2016, and the business has since expanded to Edwards, Eagle-Vail, Frisco and beyond.
Because it is out of a former car wash, Tumbleweed Express will be the first recreational marijuana shop to have cars actually pull into the building, thereby complying with state marijuana laws.
"As far as I can tell we are not aware of this business model ever coming up before," Robert Goulding, spokesman for the Marijuana Enforcement Division, told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. "It will have to follow all the rules and regulations that apply to every dispensary."
Goulding specifically pointed to three rules that regulators made sure the Tumbleweed would follow. The first is that nobody younger than 21 is allowed in the premises, even if they are in the backseat of the car.
The second is a requirement for security and surveillance at the point of sale.
The third is that no marijuana can be visible from outside the licensed premises.
"The same laws apply to the drive-thru as do the main dispensary," Smith explained.