First dispensary opens in Winter Park
June 22, 2017
The embattled Serene Wellness dispensary is finally opening Thursday in Winter Park, despite resistance from some town officials.
The location, in Valley Hi Motel at the entrance to Winter Park, is owner Dan Volpe's third location on the western slope.
Despite its location right at the gateway to Winter Park, the Valley Hi Motel was never incorporated into the town, opening the door for the dispensary to skirt the town's bans on recreational marijuana sales.
The Grand County Board of Commissioners in August approved plans for the shop, creating a tense relationship between the county and Winter Park.
"Opening up this little shop was actually the hardest thing I've ever done," said Volpe. "We definitely had a lot of support from the residents, but there was certainly some opposition.
"As far as the county, they create codes. I study those codes. I've never tried to change or manipulate the rules, I try to learn and abide by them."
Winter Park sued the commissioners to overturn the approval, but later dropped all legal action.
Serene Wellness was the first dispensary to get a medical license in Empire, and was the first to open its doors for recreational sales in Grand County. Volpe currently owns a recreational and medical marijuana shop in Empire, a hybrid shop in Fraser and now the new Winter Park location, which only sells recreational cannabis.
"Obviously Grand County had the ban, and most of our business people were driving over the pass, which is really quite a drive to go shopping at my store," said Volpe. "As people's comfort level with marijuana started to increase, gradually those barriers were broken down."
Volpe, originally from New Jersey, has a background in construction, modeling and acting. He renovated all of his store locations himself.
He says he understands that people worry about the potential negative affects of a cannabis dispensary in town. He wants to show that nothing bad will come out of his opening, and that marijuana can make a positive impact in the community.
"We're filling a need for people, and we're doing it locally," said Volpe. "I've taken buildings that were not revenue producing, and turned them into big revenue producing things."
He's also provided jobs to the communities he serves.
"Local people producing something that local people want, you don't see that anymore," he added.
Volpe is one of the only single owners of multiple dispensaries in the state. He currently employs more than a dozen employees between his three town locations.
The new shop in Winter Park will have cannabis, concentrates, edibles, vaporizer pens, pipes and more. Volpe insists that the quality of the products is assured based on longtime relationships with local growers.
"We're not working with the biggest vendors who give us the best breaks, but we really research and find smaller companies," said Lisa Kunze, manager at Serene Wellness. "The companies we work with grow properly, extract properly and we have tried all their products."
Serene Wellness is located at 79025 US Highway 40, in units five and six. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8:55 p.m.