Businesses cash in on cannabis in Steamboat Springs |

Businesses cash in on cannabis in Steamboat Springs

A Rocky Mountain High shot glass is for sale at Steamboat Treasures & Tees next to shot glasses featuring the More Barn in Steamboat Springs. Marijuana-themed merchandise is becoming more popular at some local stores following the legalization of the drug.
Scott Franz

— Move over, More Barn.

At Steamboat Treasures & Tees, tourists are currently buying a lot more shot glasses adorned with marijuana leaves than ones adorned with this city’s most iconic barn.

Shirts sporting such titles as “Pot-a-gonia” and “Herb Patrol” also are becoming so popular at one downtown store, they make up their own section on the wall.

Some customers simply find them funny. Others think they’re the perfect souvenirs from Steamboat.

“We tried just one or two marijuana-themed shirts at first, and we couldn’t keep them on the rack,” Treasures and Tees owner Leon Rinck said Tuesday afternoon as customer Mark Calhoun tried to find a novelty “This is how we roll” marijuana shirt that would fit his work buddy back home in Houston.

“Anything with the state flag and the pot leaf on it is good,” Rinck continued.

The novelty of Colorado’s new marijuana industry hasn’t worn off yet in this ski town, and some local businesses are cashing in.

Merchants like Rinck are embracing the novelty of pot and selling a range of products from coasters to posters that are adorned with images of the drug.

Even Off the Beaten Path bookstore is getting in on the fun by selling tiny ceramic pots at the front counter with the kicker “A little pot from Colorado.”

Owner Ron Krall said it’s hard to keep the popular items in stock.

Other businesses like Go Alpine Taxi are reporting an uptick in business because more people now are seeking rides to the pot shops that are all in industrial areas on the opposite side of town from the hotels and ski slopes.

And a couple of local entrepreneurs have started new businesses that exist only because of the new marijuana industry.

“My business has been brought out of the darkness,” Eric Liss said Tuesday from behind his display case full of pipes and bongs.

Pot support

Liss’ transformation from an anesthesia technician at Yampa Valley Medical Center to marijuana accessory guru hasn’t been easy.

“There were a lot of stereotypes to overcome,” Liss said Tuesday at his store called the Y-Not Shop in west Steamboat Springs.

All around him were a range of products geared toward marijuana smokers.

“When some people think about my business, they think they are going to walk in and find Jerry Garcia posters and incense burning,” Liss continued. “But that’s not the case anymore.”

Noticing a police car sitting outside Liss’s store in west Steamboat, a customer once predicted the business must have problems with the cops.

“Why would I?,'” Liss replied.

That was a few years ago.

Since recreational marijuana was legalized in the state, and retail pot shops opened last year, Liss said he feels more welcome in the community.

His business has increased, and he estimates the average age of his customers has changed from 28 to 30 to 55.

“The customers now are more talkative and relaxed,” he said.

Liss opened his doors four years ago with the support of the local marijuana dispensaries.

He said he learned they were too busy dealing with the “politics” of marijuana and other tasks to be selling pipes and a wide range of marijuana accessories.

So he saw an opening in the market and became the one store in Steamboat specializing in marijuana accessories.

Here, he sells everything from glass pipes to an odor-eliminating candle with a scent deemed “Hippie Love.”

Liss is not the only marijuana accessory business in Steamboat.

Drew Koehler last year launched a marijuana vaporizer rental business called Steamboat 420.

He said business has been good so far, and he plans to expand his company by offering a free shuttle service that will take people from the ski slopes to Rocky Mountain Remedies, a pot shop on the west end of town.

But he too has had to overcome some hurdles that most businesses don’t face.

He said a bank in Kansas recently closed his account because of the name of his business.

The account was closed even though his business does not sell marijuana.

Koehler said he heard the bank’s CEO didn’t want to do business with a company that had a name associated with marijuana.

“Typical banking issues,” Koehler said. “Otherwise, the response has been unbelievably positive.”

A new dimension

Discreetly tucked away on a bottom shelf at Off the Beaten Path bookstore is the new Amendment 64 section.

Here, an assortment of 14 books help people figure out how to grow marijuana or cook with it.

“Given its location on the bottom shelf, the section actually does fairly well,” bookstore manager Chris Erickson said Thursday. “People are very curious, especially out-of-towners. I often see people perusing the books, and we sell quite a few.”

She said the section a few years ago consisted of a lot of “joke books.” But when marijuana became legal in the state, the Amendment 64 section was added, and the titles became more serious.

The bookstore is just one of a few retailers downtown that have seen marijuana-themed items become more prevalent parts of their merchandise in the last year.

“It’s added a new dimension to what we can sell,” All That manager Bronwyn Rittner said of pot’s legalization. “It’s fun to see which entrepreneurs pop up out of it.”

She used to offer a bigger lineup of the pot T-shirts, but she said so many other merchants have started carrying them she’s scaled back that inventory.

Still, she has the little ceramic “pots” on the front counter along with other merchandise like posters.

How long the novelty will last remains to be seen.

“We’ve always had a little pot-themed merchandise,” Rittner said. “Now, it’s a little more OK.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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