By Megan Stone, Published October 30, 2015
I am a die-hard believer in the power that good design can have on people’s attitudes, feelings, and perceptions.
It is one of the main reasons I started The High Road Design Studio over two years ago— the cannabis industry needed a facelift, a reputation re-vamp, a retail reinvention. A recent project I completed in the heart of the Rocky Mountains is a text-book model for how design can do wonders for a mindful cannabis retailer.
Park Range Recreationals is a recreational dispensary located in Oak Creek, CO– between Vail and Steamboat Springs. Population: just shy of 900. Like many towns across the country, this small coal mining town was initially skeptical of allowing a “pot shop” to take root on their Main Street (literally, it is on Main Street). I was lucky to work with a passionate group of owners and a progressive landlord that all shared a vision: To create a compelling retail destination that reflects Oak Creek’s history and identity. We knew it was crucial to create a store that would not only be accepted, but embraced by the community.
I utilized thoughtful design aesthetics and luxury retail principles to create a visually appealing space that has flourished into a welcomed local business. Situated on a corner lot, the quaint, 500 square-foot retail shop is a striking landmark on Main Street. It was important that the design triggered interest from passersby and created an inviting first impression. The bright orange entry door and matching exterior sign are eye-catching elements that meet these goals.
I continued the orange details into the shop’s interior to ground the space in the Park Range Recreationals brand. Pops of orange were added to the accent lighting, wall logo, and custom plaid ceiling pattern. The orange-plaid design highlights the 14-foot-high ceiling and gives a nod to Oak Creek’s hunting scene.
I also focused on bringing locally sourced, sustainable materials into the design process in order to emulate Park Range’s locally-focused product mantra. The beetle kill pine wood paneling and hickory floors pay tribute to the area’s forestry and natural scenery. By running the same wood element from the floors up the feature wall, I was able to conceal the doors into the restroom and storage room to give a clean, modern look and provide a seamless transition along the wood-cladded walls.
The under-glass, custom 12-foot product display is illuminated with LED lighting to elegantly showcase Park Range’s homegrown strains. The back walls are accented by cannabis photography, and the main retail shelves– made of blackened cold-rolled steel– feature stainless steel, C-Vault product canisters reminiscent of old-world apothecaries. A steel library ladder adds to the charm, while making product and inventory access efficient.
“The coolest thing is that a year and a half ago people were up in arms and now they love those guys,” said the landowner in regards to Park Range’s owners.
The dispensary’s open and inviting atmosphere stems not only from its design but the owners’ hands-on approach. From the beginning, the trio was committed to makinga positive presence. “We wanted Oak Creek to make a name for itself, while keeping its uniqueness,” said co-owner Mark Wellstone.
“We knew that if we approached our business the right way, the town would embrace the industry,” said co-owner Mike Roach, who attended every town meeting and made sure to establish a positive impression with the Town Planner and Mayor, who have since visited the store once it opened.
Each owner was willing to make the investment, and continue to make an impression in the community. Roach, also a master woodworker, expertly executed the designs for Park Range’s custom paneling, flooring, and concealed door system.
Front-of-house staple and partner Mark Wellstone is on a first name basis with many of Park Range’s customers and is passionate about educating clientele on the medicinal value of cannabis. Master grower Mark Stepp is committed to cultivating quality product the natural way, hand trimming and watering all of the plants. “We are a small operation, which is why the product is so amazing. There are not too many owners who are growing their own plants,” said Wellstone. This homegrown approach coupled with the shop’s aesthetic appeal has been integral to Park Range’s success, creating a new level of sophistication in an often stigmatized industry.