Emerald Fields operates a shop in the Denver-area city of Glendale.
Emerald Fields operates a shop in the Denver-area city of Glendale.
Emerald Fields operates a shop in the Denver-area city of Glendale.
Emerald Fields operates a shop in the Denver-area city of Glendale.

Emerald Fields, a recreational marijuana dispensary in Glendale near Denver, plans to open its second location in Manitou Springs by the end of this month.

The company will be El Paso County’s second retail pot shop when it opens the store on Manitou Avenue — just down the road from Maggie’s Farm, which became the Pikes Peak region’s first when it opened July 31.

Emerald Fields Marketing Director Caitlin Murphy said the company plans to have a soft opening Friday, March 27, with a grand opening in the following weeks.

The 3,000-square-foot space is located in the former Wild Ginger Thai Restaurant, a Manitou favorite that moved out last year with plans to return to the Old Colorado City neighborhood of Colorado Springs’ Westside.

After months of negotiation, Emerald Fields purchased the 23,000-square-foot lot and 4,800-square-foot building in January from Wild Ginger owners Jose Elmer and Khon Onexayvieng for $740,000.

Emerald Fields’ parent company, MCG LLC, purchased Reserve1, a company with a former MMJ presence in Manitou, late last year with plans to use the company’s Manitou license to corner the Pikes Peak regional market in the new space. Though its owners had planned to stick with the name, they decided in December to rebrand the business and detach from any negative stigma surrounding Reserve1.

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“We had originally hoped to use the name and brands that were already on the buildings,” Murphy said.

“However, we hooked up with a marketing company and after meeting with them, we decided for both marketing and branding purposes, we’d go in a totally different direction, which is why we changed our DBA to Emerald Fields and have, thusly, changed the entire image of the company.”

Aiming for boutique

Changing that image, Murphy said, has meant transforming the once-failing MMJ business into a pair of appealing retail shops the company calls “cannaboutiques.”

When the real estate deal was done, the building was immediately gutted, and crews soon began a full remodel of its interior and exterior. Though the work was scheduled to be done and the shop opened by mid-March, inclement weather delayed the exterior work, which recently began and is swiftly progressing.

“The progress inside is awesome,” Murphy said. “It will be beautiful. We want it to be one of the nicest facilities of its kind in the state.”

The goal is to create an open and spacious retail environment that is customer-friendly and convenient, Murphy said.

“Emerald Fields is a boutique-style, recreational marijuana dispensary proudly established in the great state of Colorado,” the business states on its website, emeraldfields.com. “Our mission at Emerald Fields is to, first and foremost, cultivate a caring and professional atmosphere in which our guests can comfortably purchase the highest quality cannabis products.”

The post goes on to state that the business caters to customers with a variety of tastes, desires and needs, and at a range of price points. That includes both locals and tourists — two disparate client demographics.

Following Apple’s lead

Jim Bent, the company’s vice president of operations, likened the concept to that of an Apple Retail Store, explaining that the customer-service-oriented approach and free-flowing layout should enable the store’s 25 employees to serve 500-700 people each day.

“Some of the market is not being captured,” Bent said. “We may have the potential of getting a little more than the market shows now because we have a different business model that I think will really resonate with people. … It’s not your typical retail setting.”

Bent said the company is currently working on a price structure for the Manitou store, which may differ from the menu at its Glendale location — driven by market demand. Regardless, he said both stores will offer a wide variety of product.

“The more options, the better they feel,” he said.

[pullquote]

“We aren’t going into the city looking at Maggie’s Farm as competition. We are going to do this the best way we know how and will be good corporate citizens and neighbors.” 

– Caitlin Murphy
Emerald Fields

[/pullquote]The Manitou store will likely see a busy few weeks after opening and then settle to serving around half the market share. Although Bent hopes the business might eventually serve more than half of Manitou’s marijuana buyers, he said the company is currently more concerned with quality than with quantity.

“We aren’t going into the city looking at Maggie’s Farm as competition. We are going to do this the best way we know how and will be good corporate citizens and neighbors.”

Maggie’s Farm generates an estimated $100,000 or more per month in sales tax revenue, amounting to $1.2 million annually, according to Manitou Springs Mayor Marc Snyder (that means an estimated $40,000 in average daily sales).

“We’re projecting to service quite a few people,” Murphy said. “We’ll try to have the biggest edibles selection possible, a great flower selection, lots of concentrates and accessories, as well as merchandise that tourists can carry back with them across state lines.”

The business also will include a gift shop licensed to sell Emerald Fields- branded souvenirs.

“We love our brand,” she said.

 Embracing Manitou

“This truly is a golden ticket,” she said. “It’s a great community … and a great spot for locals and tourists alike. Manitou is the quintessential Colorado community — it’s really fun to open this kind of facility in this kind of city. It’s a new frontier.”

Manitou, a town of around 5,000, opted to legalize recreational shops in January 2014, and Maggie’s Farm opened in late July. It’s been nearly a year since Emerald Fields (then Reserve1) got the OK from Manitou’s City Council and the state to move ahead with plans to open across from its small medical store in a rented space at 2 Manitou Ave.

The company’s Glendale store, formerly a Reserve1 location, is located at 4182 E. Virginia Ave. That store is open 9 a.m. to midnight every day. Murphy said the Manitou store will be open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, as required by Manitou.

Although there remains a palpable presence of anti-marijuana advocates — as seen on the Facebook page for “People Against Retail Marijuana in Manitou Springs” — those citizens have done little to push back against the two dispensaries.

“All they really wanted was a vote,” Snyder said. “I think most of them have accepted it … and respect the fact that business has been done responsibly.”

Question 2G was on Manitou’s ballot last November, proposing to rescind City Council’s decision to allow recreational sales and ban the two selected retail shops. However, the vote was 65 percent in favor of keeping things the same.

More than 65 percent of Manitou residents voted in favor of Amendment 64 in November 2013, and Manitou Springs City Council opted to allow sales with a 6-1 vote.

During Colorado’s first year of recreational cannabis sales, the state collected $44 million in tax revenue from retail sales alone and a total of $76 million including medical sales.