O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
June 2014

Columnist — Joyce Trent

DENVER — A man who barricaded himself inside a 7-Eleven then tried to escape by taking an elderly woman hostage was shot as he exited the store using the woman as a shield.

Blas Leroux, 34, died three days after being shot in the neck. Police tried negotiating with him for an hour but that effort failed. Officers yelled at him to surrender, but he refused, instead attempting to drag the woman back inside the store, authorities said. At that point one shot dropped him to the ground and police rushed in to rescue the woman who was shaken but uninjured. She declined to give her name.

Colorado flag

Leroux phoned his parents from inside the store, telling him someone was trying to frame him for a crime he didn't commit and he wasn't going back to prison, according to KMGH TV.

His parents said they thought he was joking until they heard the woman scream.

He had been out of prison only three months after serving ten years for assorted charges, including burglary and assault.

Several nearby schools were locked down during the incident. A major street was closed for two blocks.

The woman thanked police for doing "a great job. It was terrifying. It was stressful, and I don't wish it on my enemy."

Several other people were in the store during the incident. They were unharmed.

BOULDER — Boulder recently became the latest city in the state to order merchants to collect a fee on disposable plastic and paper bags.

In the months since the city imposed the ten percent fee officials said use of plastic and paper bags has fallen 68 percent. That surpassed a prediction of 50 percent.

Convenience stores are among the retailers affected. They get to keep four cents of the fee and the city keeps six cents.

The fee does not apply to newspaper and pharmacy bags.

Aspen banned all plastic and levied a 20 cent fee on paper bags. Basalt charges 20 cents on both. Telluride banned plastic and imposed a ten cent fee on paper.

Denver is weighing a proposal to join them.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Wild Blue Car Wash sends one hundred percent of its waste water to a treatment facility to be cleaned. But the car wash management said they don't have much to send as eighty percent of the water is recycled.

"Our state of the art equipment monitors and adjusts water pressure to optimize water usage, allowing us to use much less water," the company said. Wild Blue averages about twenty gallons of water per car, according to the announcement.

DENVER — With the marijuana business generating vast amounts of money and banks refusing to open accounts for the owners, the Denver Auditor's Office is lobbying federal officials to relax its rules for financial institutions. Selling marijuana is still a federal crime and banks are federally regulated.

Dennis Berckefeldt, director of communications for the Auditor's Office, claimed pot store owners are using convenience stores to buy money orders so they won't have to walk around with large bags of money pressed to their sides. The claim is unsubstantiated.

Berckefeldt claimed there was one nearby convenience store the marijuana retailers used to exchange their money so they could avoid the tax man. He said because there is no paper trail on profits — as there would be with bank deposits — there is no way to keep accurate track of taxable funds.

DENVER — Convenience stores and other retailers can continue to sell cigarettes to customers who are at least 18.

A bill raising the age limit to 21 was defeated by a 7-6 vote in the House Finance Committee of the Colorado Legislature. One Democrat joined Republicans to halt the measure.

"Do we tell them you may not do this, we're going to stop them. Or do you urge them to take responsibility for their actions and treat them like adults?" asked Rep. Daniel Kagan, the Democrat who cast the deciding vote.

The push to raise the age to buy cigarettes was triggered by new research that showed many smokers start smoking as teenagers.

Making it illegal, however, would not stop those between 18 and 20 from acquiring cigarettes anyway, opponents argued. They would just find someone to buy for them.

BOULDER — Smoker Friendly, which has spent 23 years providing tobacco and tobacco products, is jumping into the burgeoning marijuana market with plans to open ten new stores selling marijuana accessories.

Operating under the name Glass Werx, the company opened its first two accessory stores in April, one in Nederland, the other in Pueblo.

The stores offer a variety of pipes, bongs, grinders and vaporizers and other devices.

"Now that cannabis is more mainstream it's a concept we would like to expand on in a hurry," said Chief Operating Officer Dan Gallagher.

But the stores won't resemble the typical head shop. "We want to create something that has a good vibe and a nice retail look that appeals to a broader range of people, including new users," he said. To that end the stores will feature contemporary designs with brick, glass and steel interiors.

Convenience store sales of e-cigarettes and vaporizers rose to about $1.5 billion last year from $1 billion in 2012, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores. Marijuana sales are expected to generate even greater volume in a short time.

Boulder-based Smoker Friendly operates 90 corporate-owned stores in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming.

DENVER — Twenty-two Valero Corner Stores in Colorado are among the 100 sites EST Brands has decided to sell to concentrate on larger, more profitable outlets.

Most of the stores are in Denver and Colorado Springs, but one in Pueblo also is on the auction block.

In a press release, CST Brands vice president Steve Motz said, "We are streamlining our operations in order to focus on our core business strategy to build larger format stores."

The corporation, based in San Antonio, TX., is selling 61 stores in Texas, seven in California, four in Arkansas and Louisiana, three in New Mexico, and one each in Utah and Wyoming.

DENVER — Colorado was the only state in the country in April that did not see gasoline prices rise from the previous month.

At the end of the month, the Colorado price for a gallon of unleaded averaged $3.659. In March it was $3.736.

The nation's highest prices were in Hawaii. Nine percent of U.S. stations were selling gasoline for more than $4 a gallon, according to AAA.

COLORADO SPRINGS — A convenience store clerk found the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished applied to him recently.

The victim was leaving work when he encountered Justin Jay Hatfield, 38, whom he recognized as a store customer who had been in earlier that night. Hatfield allegedly asked for a ride to his car and the clerk obliged.

After driving for several blocks the victim became suspicious and tried to escape, setting off a torrent of abuse that included sexual assault and forced ingestion of drugs and alcohol over a period of twelve hours, authorities said.

Finally the victim was able to break free and ran screaming down the road for help.

Hatfield was in custody, awaiting trial.

LOVELAND — Dave and Pam Jones operate the last mom and pop service station in this city. They are so old-fashioned they even pump gasoline for their customers on request.

The station was built in 1970. The Joneses opened the Broadmoor Heights and Phillips 66 there in 1972, selling a gallon of gasoline for thirty-six cents. The sale included checking the oil and washing the windshield.

In 1999, they replaced their underground storage tanks and put in a convenience store. Although they dropped their full service island, regulars knew to pull in to two pumps on the west side and wave or honk and an attendant would pop right out and fill up the tank. "We'll even take it through the car wash," said Pam.

When they purchased the station it had big plate glass windows in the front and a rock ledge. A group of men perched there nearly every day to shoot the breeze and if Dave wasn't busy he would go out and keep them company.

What had become a convenience for customers though — the credit card — has cost the Joneses a lot of profit. Last year they paid out $100,000 in credit card fees. As a consequence, the days of 36 cent gasoline has spiraled to $3.369, a bit higher than its competitors, but the regulars keep coming. Some even go into the store to pay cash and chat with the owners.

The business will remain in the family. The Jones' son, Ron, came back to work there after earning a college degree in business.

Until recently there was another mom and pop station down the road which also offered old-fashioned service but it had to close. It became a victim of rising costs and its customer base either dying or quitting driving.

Originally published in the June 2014 issue of the O&A Marketing News.
Copyright 2014 by KAL Publications Inc.

Serving the 13 Western States, the World's Largest Gasoline, Oil, Fuel, TBA and Automotive Service Market