More pot choices for Aspen |

More pot choices for Aspen

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times
Ron Radtke talks with store manager Marie Kilbourn and his wife, Bonnie, at Aspen Green Dragon, which opened on March 7. The shop will be selling only medical marijuana until early April when it expects to receive its recreational marijuana license from the state of Colorado.
MIchael McLaughlin/The Aspen Times |

Ron Radtke is confident in his ability to run a successful business, whether it’s as a building contractor or growing and selling marijuana.

Admittedly, it took him a few years to learn the ins and outs of running a medical marijuana venture, but with the help of his son, Brian, Radtke is now confident that the successful business plan they’ve developed in Glenwood Springs will translate well in Aspen.

Aspen Green Dragon, a medical marijuana outlet run by the Radtkes that will also offer recreational pot by early April, opened Friday at 400 E. Hyman Ave. in the lower courtyard area.

“People that come to our Aspen shop will love the quality of our products,” Radtke said. “I think they’ll love our prices, as well.”

Ron Radtke came to Colorado in 1972 and opened Summit Mechanical Systems in Glenwood Springs, which specialized in HVAC, electrical, plumbing, heating, sheet metal and fire-prevention installation and maintenance.

“We probably worked on a third of the buildings in Aspen and Snowmass,” Radtke said.

He shut down the business in 1994 during an economic downturn. After working locally for several more years, he moved to Chicago and worked there until 2010. When he came back to Glenwood Springs, Ron got into the medical marijuana business at the request of his son, Brian, who had been working in the medical marijuana field since 2000.

Ron became the sole owner of Green Essentials Medical LLC in Glenwood Springs in January 2013 and had an eye on expanding into Aspen. He said Green Essentials has done very well because of quality products and top-notch customer service.

With the advent of legal recreational marijuana, Ron wanted to increase his growing operation in anticipation of eventually obtaining a Pitkin County and state recreational-sales license, which he’s in the midst of procuring.

He originally hoped to build several greenhouses off of Lower River Road near Woody Creek, but the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners wouldn’t OK his request for extra floor space to make building the greenhouses feasible within his business plan.

“We had a plan ‘B’ and a plan ‘C,’” he said. “We’re now moving forward with our grow operation in West Glenwood, and it’s going to be fantastic.”

Radtke said they’ve developed 72 strains of marijuana and rejected more than 30 others as they’ve looked to grow quality plants with the highest output in the shortest growing period possible.

Aspen Green Dragon is the fifth marijuana outlet now open in the Aspen/Pitkin County area, along with Silverpeak Apothecary, LEAF, Alternative Medical Solutions and Stash.

“It’ll be the locals that dictate who makes it in Aspen,” Radtke said. “When it’s tourist season, business will be great, but you’ve got to have the support of the local population to make it here year-round. We intend to listen to what people want and offer the largest selections of strains and edibles at the best pricing. Our staff is caring and they know our products well. We want to work as educators within this community.”

Both the father and son have volunteered to work with the Valley Marijuana Council that does outreach education about marijuana products and focuses on solutions to potential problems with recreational marijuana.

Radtke said it’s also important to stay current on what the other marijuana shops are selling and the prices they charge.

“I’ve had some of my employees go into the other shops to check out their ambiance, prices and professionalism,” he said. “We have to have something to compare ourselves to and to set higher standards.”

Jill Murphy is the owner of Misstyx clothing and apparel gift shop located next door to Aspen Green Dragon. Murphy said as soon as the Radtkes began working on their shop, more foot traffic appeared.

“In my 17 years here, I’ve seen plenty of businesses come and go,” Murphy said. “Aspen Green Dragon has brought more initial attention than any other business I can remember. Even before they opened, almost every day there have been people taking pictures by their shop. They’ve been great neighbors and very professional.”

Aspen Green Dragon is currently only selling medical marijuana and expects to begin selling recreational marijuana by the end of the first week in April.

Silverpeak Apothecary, in Aspen and Stash at the Aspen Business Center both began selling recreational marijuana on Thursday. Both shops are pleased with their initial sales.

“Sales are great,” said Silverpeak owner Jordan Lewis. “We didn’t really know what to expect, and we’ve been working hard to stay ahead of things. The best part is how happy people are to be able to finally purchase recreational marijuana. It’s very liberating, and people are celebrating that. In the past two days I’ve been hugged more than a dozen times by total strangers.”

Wheaton Augur is co-owner of the 520 Grill located next to Silverpeak. Augur said it’s been fun watching history take place at Silverpeak.

“We’re getting a lot more foot traffic, that’s for sure,” he said. “If basic business principles are correct, that should lead to more customers for us.”

At the Aspen Business Center, Stash hasn’t experienced the long lines like the Doctor’s Garden shop in Carbondale did when it initially began selling recreational weed, but sales definitely are up.

“Business has been good,” said owner Garrett Patrick. “We aren’t crushing it, but we’re depleting our supplies. It’s been fun the past couple days. A lot of people are dropping by just to check out the shop and see things for themselves. Most people are very happy we’re here and tell us they’re glad we’re offering the product we have. Our goal now is to find ways to draw people to the Aspen Business Center.”