Megafauna owner John McCaskill at his Denver shop on March 26. 2014. (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

Shop Sesh: Why MegaFauna loves to keep it local (interview)

(Interview continued)

Is Rob still involved?

I own MegaFauna, but Rob’s always been in-house. It’s his hub for Derailed Ink and we’re hoping to grow similar partnerships. Most of the designers we started with are also still in-house, which speaks to the fact that we do what we say we’re going to do. We have a full-scale apparel and sticker printing operation and make about half of our merchandise in the store for our artists and of our own designs. The rest is brought to us from all over the state.

Where was JMC pre-MF?

School in California, Arizona and then Minnesota working for The Man at AT&T. I wasn’t passionate about it. Once I got back home, I saw this really big push in the artist community to “do what you love” and am really lucky to have ended up loving what I do.

You moved in October of last year and are conveniently located next door to the RiNo Supply Company dispensary.

It was a shotgun move because our space was just too small. It’s crazy because our current location was our very first studio space back in 2008. This corner reminds me of our original location, though, when we first got there — a one-way street, not a lot of foot traffic. We’re going through those same things but we’re seeing a much faster turnaround from all of our amazing partners, customers and neighbors. And I can’t complain about the aroma in here.

How have dispensaries — then medical and now recreational — become part of your business?

We’ve done screen printing and design work for quite a few dispensaries over the years. But even in just the past three months, there’s now a huge new opportunity for us in retail consulting. We’re working with dispensaries like Mile High Green Cross on everything from murals on the outside and interior design to curating art and branded apparel. It lets them focus on what they know best, like growing. Now that anyone can go into a recreational shop, I think the industry is starting to recognize the real revenue opportunity for creating an entire experience for the customer. Most recently, we started working with CPM [Compassionate Pain Management] on a concept that will bring a permanent mini-MegaFauna pop-up shop into their space.

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And how is pot a part of your personal life?

I’m a native, six generations deep, so it has always been present in my life. As a kid, you’d always smell it — whether it was your parents and their friends or a friend’s parents — but wasn’t talked about and just generally socially accepted. I started pretty young, probably early teens, but it never was something I abused. When both the medical and legal movements happened, at least for my generation I don’t think of it as like this big cultural shock. For medical, like a good neighbor, I go to RiNo Supply Company, and for recreational I like Denver Kush Club. OG Kush forever and always, but otherwise I smoke mostly sativa to stay on the go. And I always prefer smoking outdoors vs. indoors.

You have your medical card though, right?

There’s some health issues it has helped me address, like anxiety. I mean, when you’re working 100-plus hours a week you have to have an outlet that won’t wreck your next day. Pot has been really good for me that way, but it’s not my main thing. My main thing is working.

What about pot in the shop?

Our “Mile High Life” design came out even before this whole pot thing was blowing up and embodies what living in Colorado is all about: the mountains, the altitude, the music, the sports and yeah, the green. We’re all about more interesting ideas than just throwing a pot leaf on something. I love our Broncos design that also incorporates Sour D, which is something a lot of people don’t even notice on it. We have a ton of ideas in the works leading up to 4/20 too. We’re also hoping to add a recreational smokers’ lounge at some point. Our neighbors clearly support it and the neighborhood is perfect for it. Plans are underway, but it’s obviously just a matter of going through all the legalities with the city.

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You obviously love Colorado. Any plans to expand beyond our great state?

We’ve started looking into how this concept could roll out in other regions. My five-year plan is to open additional MegaFauna stores to not only get local artists and products discovered in different cities, but also to provide manufacturing and jobs. Detroit is a huge target on our map. There’s such an amazing sense of local pride in that city.

You launched the neighborhood’s Final Friday series last summer. Will it be back?

Most definitely. We wanted to create a celebration of art and live music in RiNo to showcase all of the exciting things happening here and are thrilled it’s now an annual event. Last year, each Final Friday drew between 3,000 to 5,000 attendees and was such great exposure for every business that participated.

What other events are on the agenda?

My girlfriend, Stefanie Dolenc, who’s our in-house fashion designer and is featured in the upcoming Marijuana Models calendar — she’s been instrumental in planning their first Four Twenty Calendar release party in partnership with Mary Jane Wines. Yes, there’s a cannabis-infused wine coming to Colorado soon!


The Mary Jane Wines Four Twenty Calendar Release Party featuring The Marijuana Models is Saturday, April 19 at MegaFauna. Toast the release of the 4/20-4/20 calendar, meet the models who grace the pages, and celebrate 4/20 Eve. Buy tickets and get more info at

Final Friday Music Walk and Urban Bazaar is the last Friday of each month from May through August. The first event, May 30, will include outdoor sound stages; local artisan and food vendors; music performances and open jam sessions; and live interactive street media and video/performance art along North Larimer Street from Broadway to 37th.