Six months after being evicted for running an illegal cannabis club, a Denver clothing brand is moving on to greener pastures in Five Points.
Grassroots California, a clothing brand known for its band-themed baseball caps, plans to open a new retail store on Welton Street this month, founder Ryan Connolly said. The shop will debut about half a year after Connolly got kicked out of a nearby space for running a smoking lounge at his clothing store.
“We love Denver, and ever since our store closed in August we’ve gotten an outreach of support and people wanting us to reopen here,” Connolly said. “It’s the same corner that we were on when we were on Larimer and we wanted to stay in that area.”
Grassroots signed a three-year lease for 1,500 square feet at 2201 Welton St. in December, Connolly said. He estimated it would take about $40,000 to get the store up and running, which Grassroots is financing through a small business loan from Key Bank.
It’s the first time the company has operated a full-time retail store since August, when it was evicted from its former shop at 2209 Larimer St. Connolly was also charged with operating an illegal cannabis business in Denver County Court, to which he pleaded guilty and received a $71 fine.
Connolly said he chose the store’s new spot on Welton Street because it is highly accessible to foot traffic.
“We feel like this Welton area is going to be the new Larimer Street,” Connolly said. “They’re building new apartments everywhere and we’re excited to be close to a light rail, which we didn’t have before.”
The company’s new digs are also only blocks away from Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom and Rosenberg’s Deli, which both maintain close relationships with Grassroots, Connolly said.
“We love our neighbors – we’re even going to be making a Rosenberg’s hat,” Connolly said.
Grassroots didn’t lay off any employees after its Larimer Street shop closed, Connolly said, although some of the company’s 20 staffers saw shorter hours.
The company kept employees working by selling hats and shirts at a pop-up store in its warehouse at 6900 E. 47th Ave., Connolly said. Grassroots also sent employees to staff booths at trade shows, like Denver’s SIA ski show and a sports business convention in Germany. They also stayed busy at music festivals, like Pennsylvania’s Camp Bisco.
After getting his Denver store open again, Connolly wants to push for new locations in Chicago and Spain.
Connolly is hopping over the pond to Spain this spring, where he plans to open a 650-square-foot pop-up Grassroots shop that will run for four months in Barcelona to gauge European interest in a brick-and-mortar Grassroots store.
“As far as music festivals and culture goes, Spain always was gravitated towards us,” he said. “European sales, both online and wholesale, are the greatest in Spain. This year, we wanted to hit the ground running in the European market.”
Connolly will also tour warehouses in Spain with hopes to expand Grassroots’ European footprint with online sales, he said.
After his Barcelona trip, Connolly is heading to Chicago. He said that he’s currently eyeing four retail spaces in the Windy City for the second Grassroots shop. He’s looking at between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet, the same size as the Denver store, and wants to have a Chicago shop open in April.
Connolly founded Grassroots in California in 2008. He moved to Colorado and opened the Larimer Street shop in 2012 while living out of his car. Since then, the company has grown to distribute worldwide and has become integrated with Denver’s live music scene.
But after watching one retail store go up in smoke, Connolly reiterated no marijuana use will be allowed at the Denver store, or any of the others he has planned.