O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
April 2016

Columnist — Joyce Trent

DENVER — State regulators have cited the Everyday convenience store chain for allegedly selling regular gasoline as premium and for having excessive water in its gasoline storage tanks.

Everyday is operated in Colorado by Superamerica LLC, of Westminster, a subsidiary of Northern Tier Energy LLC, based in Woodbury MN.

"We investigated 19 Everyday stores across the state and found that a large number of them failed," said Mahesh Albuquerque of the Colorado Oil and Public Safety division.

Colorado flag

The investigation was triggered by a tip from an anonymous consumer that substandard fuel was being sold as premium. The Colorado Department of Revenue posts a label on gasoline pumps to ensure the quality of the product and lists a phone number to call if there is a problem.

Ten stores, in small as well as large cities, were in violation, the state said, including some in Denver, Parker, Westminster, Platteville, Durango, Colorado Springs, Lakewood and Pagosa Springs.

The stores were found to be offering midgrade or premium gasoline using substandard octane.

PUEBLO — In this city a Western Convenience store discovered that a delivery driver had accidentally filled its unleaded tanks with diesel fuel.

Five customers complained of smoke and noise in their vehicles after filling up. The estimated cost of repairs ranged from $300 to $1,000, but the station said it would pay the bills.

The tanks were emptied and refilled with the proper fuel as soon as the station became aware of what had happened.

COLORADO SPRINGS — The owner of a downtown 7-Eleven is seriously considering closing up shop because there appears to be no satisfactory solution to the homeless camping on the convenience store doorstep.

Russ Mallery said he has incurred thousands of dollars worth of damage in the five years that the store has been open on a busy downtown corner — all inflicted by the homeless who have staked out spots in front.

Most recently, a homeless man, apparently upset that his friend had overdosed, took out his anger by breaking a window of the store with his hand. He was arrested because he left a trail of blood to the bus station.

But many of the crimes go unpunished because they happen late at night as the homeless congregate to smoke, drink, defecate and sleep on the street and decorative planters.

A police station is right across the street, but police say they have a big area of downtown to patrol and can't focus solely on that corner.

An attempt to pass an ordinance that would fine or jail loiterers who commit multiple offenses was met with an outcry from the ACLU and other activist groups. A watered-down ordinance goes into effect this month, but is still not satisfactory to those in opposition to any curtailment of rights of the homeless and is not expected to do much anyway.

The situation is so bad a nearby jewelry store owner says his female employees have to be escorted to their cars they are so frightened by aggressive panhandling.

Mallery had high hopes for his business when he started out because it is in a high pedestrian traffic area but he did not anticipate the volume of unsavory customers it would appeal to, some of them outright thieves. He said they come into the stores in groups, one to distract the manager, the other to lift goods.

PARKER — A new truck stop and fueling station with a convenience store, opened by the Colorado River Tribes, has driven down prices of its competitors.

The Running Man Fuel station staged a grand opening selling unleaded gasoline for $1.85 a gallon. Prices at five other stations were matching or near-matching by mid-afternoon.

The opening drew a large crowd and a congratulatory speech by Dennis Patch, chairman of the Colorado River Tribes, who said, "This should be a proud day for you. Now if you want gas you can get it from your own tribe."

Parker, on the interstate, sees a large amount of traffic year-round with RVs, SUVs, trucks, boats and cars regularly stopping there to fuel up. It is a well-known truck stop area and the tribe's oversized lot is expected to do especially well.

The name of the station stems from the Mohave tradition of running messengers, the tribe's vice-chairman Keith Moses explained. "That's how we used to get messages from one tribe to another and from place to place. It's a very significant name."

A competition was held to decide what to call the station and Running Man was the clear winner.

COLORADO SPRINGS — A recent blizzard here kept most shop owners home but the operator of Elmer's Place struggled into work because he realized his customers had no means to go elsewhere.

Pete Walker said it took him three times as long to get to work, but "We have to worry about some of the folks here. This is not a high income neighborhood and there are not a lot of alternatives for people who don't have vehicles."

COLORADO SPRINGS — Most people don't enjoy a blizzard, but Brian Nystrom enjoyed the aftermath. More cars to wash.

Business was booming at his Papa Tom's Express, a new automatic car wash in the north central area of the city.

Nystrom moved here last year from Texas because he likes snow and he felt the environment was perfect for the car wash business.

He brought with him a wealth of experience. He had been the general manager for multiple express car washes in Texas, all of which grossed more than $1.4 million a year.

Going into business for himself he wanted to make his enterprise a quality operation and also the friendliest in town. "We smile, make conversation, and give your dog a cookie. We want people to say, 'Let's go there because they are going to make my day better. They are going to make me laugh.'"

Employees will prep the vehicle and hand-dry it, if requested. Vacuuming is free.

The business offers four wash packages and unlimited subscriptions, but customers can also go ala carte.

In the first three days of operation Nystrom said the wash had 200 cars a day come through. "Our goal is 6,000 to 12,000 a month and to average ten dollars a wash," he said.

He wanted pleasant surroundings so he invested in a lot of glass and he leaves flashing and red waterfall lights on at night.

That location is just the start, says Nystrom. He envisions four to five more in four years and is scouting now for future sites. He said it takes more time than he is used to because of the city planning process.

He wants to make sure he gets the best locations. He did six months of research before choosing the current spot. "The traffic count is phenomenal."

He has invested heavily in a water reclamation process. The dirtiest water is immediately kicked out to the city. The cleanest, from the middle of the tunnel, goes through a drain to reclamation pits deep in the ground, on which he spent $60,000. Then it goes through three stages. The dirt settles, the oil rises and water is taken from the middle. That water is cleaned, then sent back to the car wash. Re-used water is only in the front half of the wash. The middle to end is all fresh water.

The chemicals used are all biodegradable.

It's all a six-figure investment, Nystrom says, but "It pays off in time."

Originally published in the April 2016 issue of the O&A Marketing News.
Copyright 2016 by KAL Publications Inc.

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