O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
June 2015

Columnist — Joyce Trent

COLORADO SPRINGS — The former owner of a convenience store here has been ordered to pay a $1 million penalty for selling spice, an illegal synthetic form of marijuana, in a civil suit brought by the Colorado attorney general.

Jin Ju Kim, who operated PoPo Wee Mart, continued to sell the drug after the state conducted a raid seizing the store's supply in December 2013. The raid was the result of three separate undercover operations in which investigators were able to purchase the drug at the convenience store.

Colorado flag

When a second raid in January of this year produced evidence showing the store still hadn't stopped the practice, the state sued. The million-dollar judgment was the largest so far in the state's crackdown on sales of fake marijuana. Two other stores had to pay $100,000 penalties each in civil actions.

In a separate criminal case Kim pleaded guilty to distribution and was placed on probation. She closed the store after the second raid.

Authorities said she sold the drug with false labeling identifying it as "herbal incense," "botanical sachet," and "potpourri," even though she and her husband knew it would be purchased for human consumption.

"Spice is a very dangerous drug," said Cynthia Coffman, who succeeded John Suthers as attorney general and continued the crackdown he started. "I hope the significant penalty will send the desired message to other retailers who think about selling spice that the penalties for doing so will be extreme."

DENVER — Area gasoline prices rose 32 cents in April, climbing 7.5 cents in one week to $2.53 a gallon. But the price was still 91.7 cents lower than at the same time the previous year.

In Colorado Springs, the price hike was 30 cents that month, reaching $2.50 a gallon after a five-year low of $1.71 in mid-January. But it was 92 cents lower than in 2014.

The statewide average was $2.53 a gallon. It was still below the national average at the time.

COLORADO SPRINGS — A Colorado Springs man has taken a convenience store that was a neighborhood eyesore and the site of frequent panhandling, assault, and theft and transformed it into a showcase operation recognizing veterans.

Nandhip Kumar gutted the old building on the west side of town, put in new tiling, pavement, signage and equipment, then named it the Veterans Convenience Store. He is an Army veteran himself.

People who had avoided the store because of its reputation began streaming in.

One person had questioned why he would pour so much money into such a dilapidated building that was abandoned because of the atmosphere that drove customers away. Kuma's answer was, "I knew I could succeed."

Now that he has spruced things up Kumar lets people know he will not tolerate the behavior that reigned before.

He watches the outside and roams the aisles looking for potential signs of trouble so he can stop it from happening. "I tell people this is a small business and the customers want to shop, not be bothered by loiterers."

He says there is no major crime now — not even little shoplifting — because of his vigilance.

And the store lives up to its name. Veterans receive a five percent discount on purchases.

WINDSOR — A Loaf 'N Jug clerk explained he helped a buddy rob his store, not because he would get anything much out of it but because he would "do anything for a friend."

The bumbling pair's plot was all outlined in text messages on clerk Kord Crowder's phone, which was seized by authorities.

Crowder called 911 and reported a male had entered the store and, after emerging from the restroom wearing a mask, grabbed him from behind and demanded money. He said he gave him the cash from the register but was stabbed in the process.

Mistake No. 1: He gave such a good description of the seventeen-year-old robber that the boy was captured ten minutes later.

Mistake No. 2: He forgot to delete the incriminating evidence.

Mistake No. 3: He underestimated the physical injury to him.

From his hospital bed, Crowder acknowledged he knew the youth but denied he participated in the robbery until police got a search warrant for his phone and found the whole plot outlined in a series of text messages the pair exchanged.

Authorities released the contents of the texts to the public.

In the first text, the boy asked Crowder if he could rob his store as he needed funds for marijuana. The boy said he had a ski mask and offered to share the money.

Crowder replied he would go along but they needed to make it look good so the boy would have to use a weapon and injure him slightly.

"You got something to hold me up wit..." Crowder asked. He suggested shooting him in the arm would work.

The boy: "I don't got a real gun."

He offered to punch Crowder, but Crowder didn't think that looked real enough. "Got a knife?"

The boy: "I got no knife. Can I use yours?"

Crowder: "if u do use mine u have to keep it."

Boy: "Ok. ill pay ya for it. where should I stab ya"

Crowder: "In the stomach or back area."

Boy: "That's gonna hurt."

Crowder: "I know hahha make sure u do it tho cause I'm wearing a thick shirt."

Boy: "Ok do I stab or slcr"

Crowder: "Just stab."

The crime went off without a hitch. But Crowder suffered an injury near his spine requiring hospital treatment. Even though the boy did not implicate him police were suspicious and got a search warrant for the phone.

Confronted with the texts Crowder was asked why he did it, especially since the take was only thirty-five dollars.

He reportedly answered, "I would do anything for a friend."

GUNNISON — He didn't have a mask so he took off his shirt to cover his face to rob a convenience store.

But he didn't have a gun either, just a baseball bat, so the Love's Store clerk laughed and refused to give him the money. Then he called police.

The bare-chested wannabe robber fled. How he would have collected the money with his hands full is a question the clerks are still pondering.

GUNNISON — Brothers Devin and Sean Bennet didn't want to run an ordinary convenience store/gasoline station and they achieved their goal at their Power Stop here.

Not only can you get a free beer if you flip a coin and it comes up heads, at times you can even get a haircut or a tattoo while you munch on a burger.

Even the burgers are special. When they were doing the planning for the business the brothers asked their friends for unique recipes, promising to put their names on them. As a result they have a lot of interesting combinations including a peanut butter bacon burger.

The menus are so varied they are spread across several boards. Everything is fresh-cooked to order. "There are no pre-cooked hot dogs that have sat there for three hours," said Devin. They use local suppliers as much as possible. And they spend a lot of time at food shows to pick up new ideas.

They have a full bar and drink items include a special mimosa and a wide range of Colorado micro-brews. On the weekend they feature Bloody Marys.

People of all ages frequent the place. And it has become well known to travelers.

One of the employees is the brothers' dog. Devin said all complaints must go through him. They haven't had any.

BUENA VISTA — Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores is planning a convenience store geared to serving tour bus customers and other tourists.

The location is ideally situated on a highway that carries a lot of traffic.

The convenience store will have 16 gasoline pumps, two restaurants, 48 parking spots for cars and six recreational vehicle parking spots.

WINDSOR — A robber got only a few hundred dollars but he caused more than $13,000 worth of damage to the equipment at Bob's Car Wash here.

The owner, Rodger Wilson, said the man smashed in a coin machine, loyalty card dispenser and automatic teller at about 3 a.m.

He was foiled when he tried to get money from the card dispenser because when the bill acceptor is struck it comes loose and falls into the machine out of reach as a security feature.

And another security measure denied payment when the man took a hammer to the change machine. "He basically busted up the mechanics of it for nothing," said Wilson.

The robber finally succeeded when he busted out the screen on an automatic service lane teller, reached in and took the money.

Not only is Wilson missing cash and incurring damage costs, he can't operate the automatic car wash bay until a replacement arrives. "That's a pretty big loss for us," he said.

He has a video of the robber and is offering a $500 reward for his capture.

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

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