willits general store

A company has applied to open a marijuana dispensary in the vacant space adjacent to the Willits General Store. 

A company wants to put Willits on the map when it comes to marijuana sales with a new dispensary visible from Highway 82.

Pioneer Interests wants to transfer the marijuana license from the medical and retail store located downtown at 175 Midland Ave. to a vacant space adjacent to the Willits General Store. The existing downtown business operates as GoodPeople. The new store would operate as LOVA.

Aspen native Matt Shifrin said he and his partners at Pioneer Interests feel there is untapped potential for a dispensary in Basalt.

“Unfortunately, Basalt is missing out on a tremendous amount of tax revenue,” Shifrin said. “The sales in the Basalt area are actually the lowest in the valley.”

After retail marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2012, Basalt town government made the decision to limit licenses to two medical and two retail, or recreational, establishments in town. In addition to GoodPeople downtown, Roots RX operates a shop in the Southside neighborhood.

Shifrin said he and his business partners have always thought the highly visible spot beside Willits General Store would make an excellent site for a dispensary. They met the owners of GoodPeople and made arrangements to buy the business and transfer the licenses.

According to Pioneer Interests’ application, Basalt’s two current pot shops generated an estimated $2.4 million in sales in 2021, based on Colorado Department of Revenue marijuana tax information. Aspen’s nine shops generated an estimated $19 million while Glenwood Springs’ seven dispensaries reaped $17.5 million. Carbondale has six shops and collected an estimated $9.6 million.

The first step to opening in Willits: convincing the town council to amend the Willits’ land-use approval to allow a dispensary. The council approved the move with little debate on Tuesday. A second vote is required to make it official on Aug. 23.

Shifrin said Pioneer Interests will rely on high quality customer service as well as visibility to make the Willits shop successful.

“Our whole mission was a desire to bring a different experience to cannabis,” he said. “Much of you have likely a stigma around cannabis as it relates to what we would call the legacy side of the business — people in hoodies, loud music, not really giving much care for the customer. Our whole thing was to try to bring a better experience.”

The company is engaged in cultivation, extraction and retail operations. It employs 222 people, according to Shifrin. LOVA currently has dispensaries in Durango and numerous locations on the Front Range.

“We’re now the second-largest grower and wholesaler of flow in the state of Colorado,” he said. “We sell our products to over 200 dispensaries throughout the state.”

LOVA won’t be opening soon. Shifrin said he must apply to the state and town governments to transfer the license from Midland Avenue to Willits. He expects the state review to take 90 days.