Yesterday, my husband opened his third retail cannabis store in Colorado. Colorado Harvest Company, store number 3.
This shop is one of the most gorgeous stores I’ve been inside (and we all know I love my shopping, so I’ve seen some stores). A warm, rich orange adorns the walls. The floors are a glossy, polished concrete. Sleek computers are central to the space; all orders are placed online at computer kiosks and then collected and paid for at a cashier window (you can also order online and swing by for pickup). Jars of marijuana strains line a counter along one wall, allowing customers to examine product before purchase. A glass blowing studio is housed in the corner. And the centerpiece of the space is a completely refurbished, vintage Volkswagen Bus, painted in company colors and open for exploration.
In 2009, my husband and I were both teachers, and traveled to Australia while on summer vacation. Medical cannabis had been legal in Colorado for some time, but the federal government warned persecution of anyone who attempted to grow and sell marijuana openly. This changed with the Obama administration in 2008, who didn’t necessarily say it was okay to open a weed store but also said they wouldn’t purposely seek out growers and sellers who were obeying state laws. This paved the way for gutsy (reckless?) entrepreneurs to enter into a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity: being a part of the great marijuana experiment. My husband, who had been restless in teaching for some time and sought something bigger, informed me that when we got home from our 3-week adventure Down Under, he planned to quit his teaching job and throw himself into a new career as a “gangapreneur”.
Now, full disclosure: I am not a weed smoker. In fact, I’d barely seen the drug since my limited exposure to it in high school and college. I am a child of the 1980’s, and I took the whole Nancy Reagan, “Just Say No” campaign very seriously in my elementary years (what a nerd!). To say that my husband’s announcement about his new career direction freaked me out is an enormous understatement. Not only was I scared of our safety and of the true legality of the business, but I was very concerned about what other people would think about my husband and me if I told them what he was really doing. I was an education professional working with kids, and fully intended to keep my job. I worried my superiors might judge me, shun me, or fire me if they knew what my husband was doing. In some ways, I wanted to tell my husband, “No. There is no way you can do this.” But I knew if I stood in the way of what his heart was telling him to do, he would never forget it. And he might never forgive me. There is nothing worse than a frustrated, emasculated man who lacks confidence. I’m a big believer in getting out of the way of destiny. And so I did, even though I was terrified. He had a dream to pursue.
The first few years were rough. I’m talking, really rough. Not just because of the business, although that was part of it. But the new venture tested both my husband and me personally. The pressure on my husband to succeed was extreme, and he did not deal with the stress well in the first few years. We gave everything to the business. There were one or two times where we thought we would lose everything and need to sell our house and move out of the country and resume teaching somewhere else. It tested our relationships: many of our close friends were supportive of the business, but a few other friends’ reactions ranged from skeptical to downright judgmental (and still do). I didn’t really have anyone to talk to – who could possibly relate?
Things began to turn around at about the time our son was born in 2012. My husband acquired a new partner and they joined forces so they could have multiple locations and grows in addition to owning OpenVape, a hash oil vape pen company. More importantly, my husband experienced a profound shift in the way he dealt with stress. He became calm. He took control, even in an industry that can make you feel quite helpless sometimes with its outrageous rules and regulations. He’s always been kind, open-minded and incredibly intelligent, but something happened to him. He became a leader in the most profound way. He not only leads the 75 people currently working for him, but he leads me by his example. When this shift happened, his business (and our marriage) really took off in ways we could never have expected. I’ve never met a harder worker or a more courageous man. He makes me work harder for our family because I’m just trying to keep up with him. I am in awe of him every single day.
And so. Here we are. September, 2015, and the third store opened yesterday. Tim now has 3 grow locations also, and OpenVape is still going strong. In some ways, I can’t believe it. What is this world? How did we get here? And in other ways, when I watch my husband and his courage, determination, resiliency and grit, I think, well, of course we’re here. And I am just so proud of him and of his brand new store, and I definitely don’t shy away from sharing with people now what my husband does for a living. I knew I’d never be bored with Tim as my husband, but I also never knew how much he would truly amaze me. If you’re in Colorado, check out his new Colorado Harvest Company at 11002 E. Yale Avenue in Aurora.