I thought I had traversed every inch of Denver over the last 10 years, but realized I was wrong when I attempted to find iVita Wellness’ Franklin Sreet location. It didn’t help that it was nestled in the heart of the never-ending construction happening on 40th Avenue, but even without that hassle I would have had a hard time noticing the dispensary/recreational shop among the industrial landscape northeast of downtown.
Surrounded by a dead-end caused by the aforementioned construction on one side, and what looked like some type of shipping yard on the other, the iVita Wellness storefront could be almost anything. It was getting close to dark, and as I drove up, I squinted at the shadowy mass in front of me, which looked more like a movie-style biker gang hideout than a retail business.
As I settled into the street parking, my GPS declared, “You have arrived at your destination,” but I found myself filled with doubt. Surely this wasn’t the right place. A “Now Open” sign rising from the dusty ground to my left was the only visible evidence of a business from the street, but I craned my neck and spotted a large iVita Wellness sign draped across a gray building to my right. There appeared to be some off-street parking inside the compound, but honestly it was hard to tell what was what with all the industrial chaos splayed out around me.
I half expected to get smashed with an I-beam “Looney Tunes” style on my way in, but I made it safely. Upon entering the shop’s metal grate-like facade, the orderly and stylish interior made me feel like I’d entered an alternate dimension compared to outside. A variety of hand-painted pop art adorned the walls, and the cool-tone color scheme and faux-worn flooring gave the place a homey, relaxed feel. When I told the woman at the window I was there for a recreational purchase (this iVita location also offers medical), she took my ID and called me back.
The bud room was much the same as the waiting area: well-appointed, classy and hip. A painting of Jules and Vincent from “Pulp Fiction” menacingly pointing bananas at invisible foes occupied the most wall space, but there were probably 20 paintings of a similar style spread throughout this area. The shop owners definitely spent some money to make the interior look unique and cohesive, which is a rarity in this industry following the crazy scramble to get recreational storefronts compliant and ready for business.
Two bud counters were positioned to my right, each equipped with its own staff member. My budtender ended up being Caitlin, the same woman who took my ID. She called me over to the counter and explained that this side (the right) was for recreational, the other was medical. Contrary to the latest trend of dispensaries focusing mostly on recreational sales, the medical side of iVita appeared well-stocked with strains. While there may be some other reason for the inventory disparity, I appreciated seeing it regardless, as I have heard many complaints from medical patients that their dispensary of choice has all but abandoned them in favor of the higher-dollar rec sales.
iVita’s pricing is competitive for the current inflated rec market; an eighth will run you $45 before tax, an ounce is $350. Though the prices are still far more than I am used to, they felt at least somewhat fair after stopping by several other places in the last few weeks that were selling eighths for $60 or more pre-tax. I told Caitlin I was on a bit of a budget and she pointed to the jar of $10 pre-rolled cone joints behind the bar; once again I felt like this might be my best option, as paying $18 for a gram just feels too much like Amsterdam (exchange rate and all).