It was all smiles at Acme Healing Center in Ridgway on Saturday as the small business opened the doors to its marijuana supply to the general public for the first time.
Acme, which has operated medical marijuana dispensaries in Ridgway, Crested Butte and Durango since 2009, hosted an open house to celebrate its first day of retail sales to customers 21 and older.
Chris Sanchez, owner of the Acme stores, began the day’s celebrations by dedicating a wood-carved sculpture to the town of Ridgway. A handful of residents turned out for the dedication, including John Clark, mayor, and Rick Weaver, town councilman.
“We’re dedicating this because we really appreciate how the city has been to us — open arms, everything has been wonderful, a really good deal in this city. We want to give back as much as we can,” Sanchez said.
The center’s debut of retail sales went smoothly, employees said, with a steady stream of customers filing in and out throughout the day, toting “exit bags” with their happily purchased products inside.
“The day has gone amazing, truly amazing,” David Niccum, general manager, said. “It’s been a great day for the first day of retail marijuana in Ridgway.”
Niccum said the store saw a fairly even mix of Ridgway residents, visitors from other parts of the state and out-of-state travelers. The ages of customers varied, but Niccum said the Baby Boomers generation was prominent among the clientele.
The atmosphere at the open house was overwhelmingly positive, and Sanchez and Niccum expect it to stay that way.
“I think we fit in really, really well. We’ve not had a single person be negative on the business that we do. I think we’re in the perfect community,” Niccum said.
Sanchez added it would be “a pleasure” to work with the town of Ridgway, and he hopes to continue giving back whenever possible.
Clark had only good things to say about Acme.
“They’re very positive members of the community. ... This has the potential to be a really positive thing,” he said.
Clark acknowledged the town council had discussed retail marijuana sales, and recognized the potential for abuse. Ultimately, it came down to the community’s desire.
“Ridgway’s voting public spoke,” Clark said. “They voted in favor of retail marijuana and we’re going to support that.”
Hannah Sweet was one of Acme’s first customers of the day. She has been a patient, a medical marijuana consumer, since moving to Ridgway in July. She and a companion purchased retail marijuana “to support the movement,” and patronize a local business.
“There’s a lot of good to it,” Sweet said of retail cannabis. “I don’t see, necessarily, the ‘bad’ to it, unless someone is driving — and that’s in the law.”
Tobacconist, a Crested Butte retailer of tobacco products, pipes and other smoking-related accessories, had a “trial run” in the building adjoined to Acme. Tobacconist co-owner Victoria Walls and employee Alex Theaker had a limited number of items available to Acme’s customers; the business is considering expanding to Ridgway.
Walls said the start of retail marijuana in Ridgway could be very beneficial to her, and other, businesses through diversification of the economy.
The economy could also see a boost from tourists seeking retail cannabis, Niccum projected.
“I think the tourism is going to increase big time. Here on the Western Slope, there are only a few stores and some are limited,” he said.
Acme’s Crested Butte location held a similar community-oriented event last week and will begin retail sales soon. The Durango location is waiting on the city to move on allowing or disallowing retail sales.