Local to enter town licensing process for Snowmass’ first marijuana dispensary

Renee Grossman stands in the space she is leasing on the Village Mall in Snowmass on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. With town approval, Grossman hopes to open Snowmass' first marijuana dispensary there this winter. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Renee Grossman of Old Snowmass didn’t know much about marijuana when she first moved to the Roaring Fork Valley more than 10 years ago.

But the longtime traveling investment banker was looking to start a more localized career and thought after doing some research that opening a retail marijuana dispensary was the right move.

“I was interested and started doing more research and was blown away by the rates of consumption,” Grossman said. “I’d never seen a business like that before.”

In 2014, Grossman opened High Q in Silt, which she said was one of the westernmost retail marijuana shops in Colorado at the time. Over four years later, Grossman opened another High Q location in Carbondale.

This winter, she hopes to add Snowmass Village to her list of Roaring Fork Valley organic cannabis dispensaries and open the town’s first marijuana shop on the mall.

“When I heard of the potential for new dispensaries in my backyard, I wanted the first retailer to be me,” said Grossman, who has lived in Old Snowmass for three years. “The reality is a large percentage of the people who come to the mountains to ski stay in (Snowmass), so there’s a large number of tourists and locals, which I think makes for a strong market.”

In March, Snowmass Town Council approved the zoning ordinance and a related set of carefully crafted regulations for potential marijuana dispensaries in the village, as previously reported.

The decision came after a more than five-year moratorium on marijuana shops in town, establishing an ordinance that allows retail dispensaries to operate within certain spaces on the second floor of the Snowmass Center and Village Mall, and requiring dispensary applicants to both obtain a local commercial lease and receive their retail license from the state before entering into the town’s licensing approval process.

Grossman has been leasing the proposed marijuana shop space adjacent to the Little Mammoth Steakhouse on the mall’s second level since early July. She received approval from the state for a retail marijuana license as of Sept. 3, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue’s licensee lists.

Soon after receiving state approval, Grossman submitted the paperwork for the town’s licensing process. Town Council, acting as the Local Marijuana Licensing Authority, is set to review Grossman’s local license during a public hearing Oct. 29.

On a recent morning, Grossman stood outside of the proposed marijuana shop space. She said she hopes to offer four points of sale stations to help accommodate customers in the peak seasons, and that she plans to mirror the new shop, if it is approved, off her Carbondale location.

“When I opened the Carbondale location, I used my experience from Silt and laid out the shop differently for approved efficiency,” Grossman said. “That model has proven successful, so I plan to employ the same model (in Snowmass), if I receive approval.”

Grossman went on to say she feels optimistic about receiving town approval to open the local High Q because she believes she is in compliance with all of the local rules and regulations, and feels High Q’s mission aligns with the town’s community-driven focus.

“Snowmass Village’s licensing is unique in that it focuses on community engagement and how potential shops would interact and support the town,” Grossman said. “That’s what High Q aims to do, our goal is to be an asset and a contributor not just through jobs and tax money but by being a good neighbor.”

In Carbondale and Silt, Grossman said her High Q dispensaries and staff have worked with their business neighbors cross-promotionally, when appropriate, and would do the same in Snowmass.

Grossman also plans to hire Snowmass locals to work in the proposed dispensary, noting that she’d need about 16 employees in the high season and about six in the offseason.

For her, hiring locals with great customer service is the key to High Q’s success.

“My staff really protects our franchise. I couldn’t do it without them,” Grossman said, noting most of her employees have been with High Q for two years or more.

At the Oct. 29 public hearing, Grossman plans to attend and answer questions if needed. She also will have educational materials, labels and sample packaging for members of council and the public to see.

“We have high-quality product, believe in great customer service and aim to be a positive influence on the community,” Grossman said. “I’m really optimistic and hopeful we will open in Snowmass this winter.”