Pot supply store eyes national growth

Poiss

Oliver Poiss landed an investment that he plans to put to use expanding his business. Photo by Katherine Blunt.

Grow Big Supply looks like a stoner’s Home Depot. And now, armed with some fresh capital, the marijuana supply store near the Western Stock Show is hungry for a bigger slice of the cannabis support business.

Grow Big Supply struck an investment deal with a New York-based technology company last week. And now it wants to expand its national footprint.

“We needed more resources, and they provided the resources,” said Oliver Poiss, Grow Big Supply’s CEO. “I want to do this on a national platform, and I think my model is different than any other retail store you go into.”

The deal gives Grow Big Supply access to technology that assesses plant health by analyzing its chemical composition. Poiss said he plans to build a lab in the back of his supply warehouse to put the technology to use.

“Most of what we have done in this industry has been trial and error by people who aren’t trained,” Poiss said. “Now we can bring some real science to it that doesn’t happen in the trial-and-error kind of phase. We want to combine the cannabis world with technology.”

He also plans to develop a hemp research facility in an adjacent warehouse that now holds growing soil.

“I want to start concentrating a lot on hemp,” he said. “It’s really the future.”

The mural-covered warehouses tucked behind a firehouse at the outskirts of RiNo are stocked with soil, fertilizer, grow lamps and gardening tools. Its psychedelic color scheme reflects the tastes of local artists who have decorated the space inside and out.

“I say to customers, ‘Let’s get your schedule down to make sure you always have what you need,’” Poiss said. “Our niche is showing growers how to be more efficient.”

Behind the counter, you won’t find sleepy-eyed employees swathed in smoke. Poiss said he fires workers who clock in high; he wants customer service to be a priority. He employs 14 people.

“I’m a stoner, and (smoking) focuses me and gets me in the right space of mind to be a productive person,” he said. “But it doesn’t affect everyone in the same way.”

Poiss, 43, moved from New York to Colorado in 1995 after hopping between colleges and trying out different majors. He started nine programs, but he hasn’t earned a degree.

“I’m one credit short,” he said.

He studied architecture at CU Boulder and found work building houses in Steamboat Springs. But the recession demolished his business, he said. He moved to Denver shortly after the collapse.

In 2010, he opened his supply store in an 800-square-foot space at 4501 Wynkoop St. The business brought in $650,000 that year, he said. Three years later, it had grown to encompass 50,000 square feet and raked in $7.5 million in revenue, he said.

2014 didn’t bring as much luck. Poiss made some business decisions that didn’t pan out, he said, and thefts from the store took a bite out of profits.

But this year, the business is on track to expand. Poiss said he plans to host educational programs for growers and will start selling supplies to make beer, wine and liquor at home. He also hopes to sell pipes and other paraphernalia.

“I want to get all that ancillary business I’m missing out on and become a one-stop shop for the industry,” he said.

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