The only marijuana shop directly on the 16th Street Mall opened Wednesday with a design concept aimed at minimizing the intimidation factor for less-experienced users — such as tourists.
Euflora's location, in the heart of Denver's tourism district, has clean lines, a minimalist layout and none of the psychedelic or green color schemes often associated with dispensaries.
"We decided to take a whole different route with this," co-owner Jamie Perino said. "I like to think of it as Starbucks meets Apple. I kind of want it to be the new iconic feature that we have on the 16th Street Mall."
Euflora's goal — to be an upscale, informative dispensary — directly correlates with the type of out-of-town clients Perino anticipates will stumble upon the shop.
"It's really interactive. They can work at their own pace — especially people from out of state, who may not be as experienced with marijuana," Perino said. "We do not leave them flying high and dry."
Customers, whose IDs are checked, are handed a clipboard that is meant to be used like a sushi-restaurant order form. They can then explore 20 weed strains displayed in glass smelling jars next to Samsung tablets anchored to large counter tops. The design is patent-pending, Perino said.
The tablets provide a variety of information about the particular strain, such as positive and negative side effects, its medical uses, origin, flavors, THC levels, reviews and physical responses.
Euflora also sells marijuana seeds, novelty items, artworks, pipes, vaporizers, apparel and 40 kinds of edibles.
While the store's chic design showcases the increasing sophistication of the burgeoning industry, its location also highlights the city's growing acceptance of the substance.
It was less than six months ago that the Denver City Council was considering a marijuana-possession ban for the 16th Street Mall, but the measure failed to become law. The Downtown Denver Partnership and Visit Denver have taken a neutral public stance on the existence of marijuana shops on or near the mall.
"We certainly don't want to assume that any negatives will come from it. We don't want to play that guessing game," said Jenny Starkey of the Downtown Denver Partnership.
The shop's 6,000-square-foot space is larger than most dispensaries. While there are several other marijuana shops in the central business district — including Native Roots Apothecary on the eighth floor of a 16th Street Mall building and Lodo Wellness Center on Wazee Street, which is visible from the mall — Euflora's entrance is on the pedestrian mall, leading customers directly to its basement retail space.
Perino anticipates a greater volume of tourists due to her store's accessibility, but a Visit Denver spokesman downplayed this effect because there has been a "highly visible store from the mall since Jan. 1."
Due to advertising restrictions, Perino and her staff have spent time talking to pedicab drivers, restaurant servers and bartenders up and down the mall, who they hope will refer curious visitors.
"We've already experienced on our first day droves of people coming in just to say they've been in (a dispensary) — people wanting to take pictures, wanting to just look and touch and smell what it is like," she said.
While Perino was disappointed Euflora missed the Jan. 1 kickoff of legal retail marijuana sales in Colorado, her Friday grand-opening date is optimal for other reasons.
"We figured the next big payday is 4/20," she said, "and decided the Rockies opening game would be a great option for the grand opening."