O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
February 2015

Columnist — Joyce Trent

COLORADO SPRINGS — Convenience stores today have to offer something different to compete and it makes for interesting shopping while getting gasoline.

A family-owned Conoco on the south side of the city features a selection of fine cigars and a walk-in humidor to take your time choosing them. The Black Bear Tobacconist advertises all price ranges and also a large selection of cigarettes, Zippo lighters, pipes, pipe tobacco and, of course, cigar accessories.

Colorado flag

When Western Convenience Stores opened its second location in Salida recently, its forty-third in the state, it included Peruvian-style ponchos in its list of goods for sale.

The Desperado store in Crawford attracts customers with its plastic dinosaur outside and a rack of trucker hats inside.

AURORA — All he wanted to do was to fill up, but the driver of a pickup truck nearly ended up being swallowed by flames when he miscalculated his proximity to the pump. The ensuing crash started an intense fire but, fortunately, it was soon extinguished with no injuries to anyone.

However, the truck driver spent the night in jail, cited for driving under the influence.

EDWARDS — Edwards Station has made a major investment in its car wash with a renovation enabling the company to wash fifty cars an hour, up from eight, and adding four electric car charging areas and more parking.

The $2 million project came in response to increased service demands at the station which opened in 1999.

The owners promised that the quality of each wash will be elevated with a focus on removing magnesium chloride in the winter and insects in the summer. Among the new equipment is an array of soft foam brushes and rollers, reformulated "green" soaps and computer-aided controls.

To help with congestion problems access has been expanded on the sides of the car wash. The corporate owner, East West Resorts, purchased a vacant parcel of land from a school district which helped the district finances and provided more space for the car wash.

There are more vacuum areas and fifteen new custom parking spots.

"It's going to be a much faster, superior quality car wash," said Chris Dudar, operations manager.

A convenience store and lube shop are also in the complex.

GOLDEN — Tim Blum had a dream over twenty years ago and it culminated in the car wash he owns today in this city.

He dreamed of a state-of-the art operation which he believes he has achieved with Clean Cars Car Wash.

It sports a Hot Water Laser 400 Touch-Free Automatic, anti-ice floors, and a perimeter heat system. Vending supplies, carpet shampooer, vacuums and foamy brush systems are also included.

There's also a large self-service bay for large trucks and RV's.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Why go out to have an oil change when the oil change can come to you? That's the philosophy of the owner of the new Go Mobile Lube.

"Time is our customers' most valuable asset," said owner Robert Milroy. "That is why we cater to the clients and work around their schedules, coming to change their oil where and when it is most convenient for them, whether that be at their home, office, school, or even grocery store while they are shopping."

He provides the same service for fleet operators so the owners don't have to pay their employees to stand in line at a lube shop doing nothing.

He will even go thirty miles to Pueblo or out to the prairie where the small town of Yoder sits.

Other services include radiator work and transmission repair. But heavy repair is excluded.

He has been in business since 2011.

DENVER — Some robbers need a little more work on their technique as demonstrated in two cities last month.

In Colorado Springs, a man walked into a 7-Eleven but didn't put on his mask until he went into the bathroom. When he emerged he went up to the counter and demanded the clerk hand over the cigarettes. The clerk, hoping for a show of more stupidity, asked for identification, but the robber wasn't falling for it. He brandished a gun and walked off with the smokes. Police are hoping to catch him soon.

A group of men who robbed seven stores — nearly every 7-Eleven in the Montebello neighborhood of Denver — allowed a customer to walk out during one stickup and new customers to come in. The customer who left had to be the most laid-back witness to a robbery ever. He was on his cell phone when he seemed to slowly comprehend what was going on. He simply turned and walked back out without a word from the robbers. He was still on his phone.

And of all the stuff in the store, a cop said the gang "only took blunt wraps and stuff like that, along with a small amount of money." Police hope to catch them soon.

FORT COLLINS — No one is sure as to how it got started but now it has turned into what locals are calling "The Great Gas War of 2015."

Just before Christmas a convenience store on one corner dropped its price for a gallon of unleaded below two dollars.

Then a gasoline station across the street cut its even more, and each day after that they tried to outdo each other. Soon it was forty cents below market level.

A frustrated Christian Yepello, manager for the Western Convenience store, said the price was $3.05 when the war started. At press time it was $1.55.

Robert Zipperstein, district manager for Empire Petroleum dba Diamond Shamrock/Valero, whose store is on the other side of the front lines, said he wasn't trying to start a war. He said his company routinely does surveys, finds the lowest price in town and matches it. But when Diamond Shamrock dropped its price to the lowest, Western Convenience sliced its by four cents. It has been penny for penny ever since.

"When we go to match him he goes four cents below," Zipperstein said. "He wants to be four cents below us for some reason. We decided to go down to match, but at some point we have to decide enough is enough."

Right now the increased volume is keeping both stores afloat. It will be a while before the two competitors know if the volume can sustain them.

For the cops it is a huge headache. With all the cars vying to get into the two stations traffic is backing up.

It's also causing a dilemma for the other stations in town, who can't afford to cut prices so drastically. They are just trying to outprice each other.

COLORADO SPRINGS — If motorists think they have it good now, they must have been amazed as a list of the gasoline prices in 1940 came out in the Gazette recently.

After freight, companies agreed to a reduction in rates to benefit motorists gasoline started selling for 17, 19, and 21 cents a gallon per respective grade.

FORT COLLINS — Robbers are starting their careers at an earlier age.

Police said a fourteen-year-old boy was arrested after he flashed a handgun at a clerk at a 7-Eleven and made off with cash.

A tip resulted in the arrest of the teen who was released to his parents pending formal charges.

ARVADA — It was a lucky day for a convenience store clerk here when the robber did a double take and abandoned the attempt because he knew him.

The hooded man was captured on camera as he gave a thumbs up to the clerk at the Quick Save as he exited the premises.

The clerk said the would-be robber walked in at lunch time wearing a blue hoodie, jeans, blue bandana, and red and yellow shoes, and started to give his spiel. Then he looked at the clerk and said, "(Expletive!) I was going to rob this place, but I know you."

But he covered his tracks, asking if the clerk recognized him. When he said no, the suspect said, "Good," and left flashing a thumbs up.

A clerk at a 7-Eleven a mile and a half away on the same road wasn't so lucky a short time later. A man meeting the description of the first suspect went ahead and held him up.

DENVER — Empire Petroleum has expanded its presence in Colorado by acquiring thirteen former CST Corner Store locations.

"Empire is excited to be doing business in the great state of Colorado," said Michael O'Brien, vice-president of mergers and acquisition for the Dallas-based company. "Colorado represents an opportunity to expand our footprint further into the western U. S. The acquisition further solidifies our relationship with Valero, a relationship we hope to continue to build in the Rocky Mountain region and elsewhere."

He said the company intends to keep on as many former CST employees in its stores as possible.

THORNTON — Kum & Go opened a new store here in January, the second in northern Denver.

The store has 5,000 square feet, designed to provide fast service with a wide variety of food options including made-to-order pizza, baked goods and breakfast and deli sandwiches. The station sells diesel and E-85 along with other fuels.

Kum & Go now has 54 stores in Colorado. The corporation has 82 LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) sites, the most of any convenience store chain in the nation, according to a press release.

LAKEWOOD — The owner of an auto repair shop found that constructing a quick-lube right next door came in very handy and increased profits dramatically.

Green Mountain Auto World and Havoline Xpress Lube work hand-in-hand, said Mark Rodenburg, who owns both.

For instance, if a torn CV boot is spotted during the lube job the car can be fixed next door immediately.

Business flows regularly from the lube shop that attracts customers who generally return at least three times a year. About 35% to 40% of quick-lube customers also use the repair shop, Rodenburg estimates.

He said the lube business is very demanding these days. "People are in a hurry," he said. So he sets a goal of performing an oil change in fifteen to twenty minutes. It would be impossible, he said, if he didn't have the pits he has. He said three techs work on a single car, one in the pit, one under the hood and another doing the courtesy inspection.

He saves money with used motor oil utilized to heat the buildings as well as a stand-alone car wash he also owns.

Promotions are a necessary part of business, he says, along with a little extra customer service. He offers a five dollar car wash with every oil change. Many times those who take their car in for repair find that it has been run through the car wash with no charge.

To reach the on-line crowd he is putting a video on his Yelp listing to help attract new business.

The business is a family affair. Daughter Erin runs another business he owns, a Shell station and convenience store. She studied for the telecommunications field but decided Dad's business was a better fit. His son, Todd, came back to work after getting his college degree. Even his mother helps stock the convenience store once a week.

FORT COLLINS — The city has joined the environmental push against over use of plastic bags.

The City Council has adopted a five-cent charge per single use bag that takes effect in April.

Originally published in the February 2015 issue of the O&A Marketing News.
Copyright 2015 by KAL Publications Inc.

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