O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
June 2016

Columnist — Joyce Trent

DENVER — A bill that would have authorized a three-cents-a-gallon income tax credit for gasoline retailers if they would sell E-15 was dead in the water almost as soon as it was submitted.

A hearing on Senate Bill 16-175 was postponed indefinitely by the Senate Committee on Finance two weeks after it was introduced in the Senate. The Legislature adjourned without taking further action.

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Sponsors thought the tax credit would serve as incentive for retailers, who so far have shown little enthusiasm for the alternative fuel, to invest in equipment needed to buy, store, and dispense E-15. The credit would have been available for three years starting in January 2017. The Colorado Corn Growers Association, whose members most stood to benefit, threw its support behind the plan.

Many retailers in Colorado sell E-85, but opponents of this measure feared gasoline containing fifteen percent ethanol would harm vehicles. AAA Colorado has supported ethanol legislation in the past but said there needs to be more extensive testing, better pump labels to safeguard consumers, and more consumer education about potential hazards before E-15 is put on the market. Abate of Colorado, a motorcycle association, condemned the bill saying it "crosses the line." Its members vigorously lobbied against the proposed legislation.

DENVER — A bill that allows transportation fuel distributors to place tax liens on gasoline retailers if they fail to reimburse them for the tax on fuel delivered sailed through the legislature.

DENVER — The Colorado Legislature also passed a bill allowing grocery stores to phase in the sale of full-strength beer, wine and liquor. Convenience stores that have tried for years to get the same right, were left out of the legislation and plan to take the beer battle to the ballot box.

Convenience stores and grocery chains have been limited to selling 3.2 beer and no liquor under an antiquated law that has spurred a vicious fight with liquor stores in the legislature. Every year for five years the liquor store lobby has prevailed, arguing it would put small liquor stores out of business.

Some proponents and opponents of sale of full-strength spirits hammered out the compromise bill in hopes it would forestall the issue going to the voters.

The watered-down legislation pleased few and left the Governor pondering a veto, saying the wording was "more confusing than a crossword puzzle."

It allows grocery chains, now limited to one liquor license, to gradually increase their holdings to 20 over twenty years. They would have to buy those licenses from existing liquor stores. If a liquor store was within 1500 feet of a grocery and refused to sell its license the grocery would be shut out.

Although some grocers supported it, two major grocery chains plan to continue collecting signatures for a ballot issue to allow full-strength beer and wine in all their stores immediately. The convenience stores, under the banner Coloradans for Convenience, had waited to see what the legislature would do but has now begun its own campaign to put its issue on the ballot.

BOULDER — A coalition called Healthy Boulder Kids is trying to put a measure on the city ballot that would make distributors of sugary drinks pay two cents an ounce excise tax on every can or bottle they sell.

The money has been earmarked toward establishing health programs and encouraging healthy eating.

The City Clerk was studying the filing and, if approved, the coalition would be allowed to try to collect enough signatures to place the question on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The group emphasized consumers would not have to pay the tax, but opponents say because they don't have to, passage would have little effect. The Colorado Beverage Association said it would "hurt small business people and those who rely in part on beverage sales for their livelihoods."

ARVADA — A quick-thinking convenience store clerk here saved a baby's life when the mother started to black out at the cashier counter.

Rebecca Montano was admiring the baby at the Alta convenience store when she noticed the mother's eyes glaze over. She reached across the counter and grabbed one of the child's arms, then pulled the baby into her arms seconds before the mother fell backward onto the floor in an apparent seizure.

Montano called 911, calmed the baby, and kept checking on the mother until help arrived.

COLORADO SPRINGS — An experimental loyalty rewards program started here did so well it convinced Kum & Go to adopt it nationwide.

Already the &Rewards program has 45,000 registered users, according to a company press release. It rewards customers for purchases both inside the store and at the pump.

Customers earn two points per gallon on all fuel transactions and five points per dollar spent on most items in the store. After racking up 250 points the customer can choose a variety of rewards to be loaded to their accounts.

Items include discounts on fuel, free beverages and free fresh food goods such as pizza and breakfast sandwiches.

Just for signing up customers can get a free fountain soda.

The program also includes a pizza club where six purchases of regular price pizzas earn a seventh free. And the company will surprise some members with pop-up offers such as fuel discounts and discounted or free snacks.

The firm offers a variety of ways to sign up.

Kum & Go, relatively unknown in Colorado a few years ago, is quickly becoming a major presence here.

COLORADO SPRINGS — A second natural gas fueling station has opened here.

Through the Alternate Energy Fuels Colorado program the station will be linked with more than 25 newly developed CNG fueling locations along major transportation corridors in Colorado, resulting in an intrastate network for CNG travel.

Demand seems to be growing. At the first station, sales jumped from 300 gallons in 2014 to 2,736 gallons in 2015.

The station will be open around the clock and accepts major credit cards and fleet fueling cards.

LAKEWOOD — It looks like a coffee shop from the outside with its flower-bordered patio and umbrella, tables and chairs. And it is — but that is only half the story.

Dustin Olde started out in 2006 with the idea that a full-service coffee shop in the lobby of his lube shop would draw a good clientele to the auto part of the business. He was sorely disappointed.

By 2010 his Lube and Latte was losing money. He attributed it to an identity crisis.

"We had a coffee shop mindset, but we wanted the auto side to be the money maker. We just figured with the warm atmosphere of an independent coffee house people would flock to have their cars worked on. He had worked his way through college as a barista in Portland where he learned establishing a relationship with the customer was all-important in generating sales.

He realized there was a need for that kind of relationship at the lube shops which were traditionally dark, unappealing and poorly furnished in the waiting areas.

So he went back to school and trained as an auto technician. In the beginning, he worked for other people but it was not what he wanted. He wanted to own his own business and decided combining lube and coffee would be the best of all worlds.

He set up in an 1800-square-foot building in Lakewood, redesigning the lobby into a coffee shop. He painted the walls a teal color and put in a front counter with a glass pastry case. He set up tables, chairs and couches. The former office behind the counter became a barista station with a variety of tasty goods. Above the counter he placed two menus — one for the cafe, the other for auto service. Then he put in a brick wall to muffle the sound of the auto work.

He wanted the auto service to be quick service but, although it was always busy, he was limited in volume by having only two employees in the bays. Although it failed he was determined to see his dream come true.

He realized he had put too much effort into the coffee shop and too little in the repair side. "We couldn't accomplish the auto work fast enough to make real money," Olde explained.

He hired two full-service technicians who had worked at dealerships and put a tech who had only worked on quick lube into training for full-service repair. He added a full-time service advisor to continue with his customer relations philosophy.

The sign was changed to reflect the greater capacity and he had his people market it.

Then he started educating the customers. He developed a three-tiered inspection system divided by how critical each element was to the vehicle's performance and safety. When his employees found something in the inspection they pointed it out. But there was no hard sell.

Sales have nearly doubled to $800,000 and the coffee shop brings in an additional $100,000. He is considering expanding.

WINDSOR — A woman poured her coffee at a convenience store and went to pay for it but discovered she was 27 cents short. She promised to get the money from her car, but drove off instead.

The clerk called police, leaving management with the dilemma as to whether to prosecute for 27 cents. No decision had been made.

KUSA — Thieves have targeted the automatic change dispensers and charity donation boxes of convenience stores along an interstate highway recently.

Four stores were hit in a short period of time: a Kum & Go in Dacono, another in Mead, a Conoco in Mead, and a 7-Eleven in Windsor.

One person distracted the clerk by asking for a pack of cigarettes, then, as the clerk turned his back, the other person grabbed the coin machine or charity box off the counter and ran outside to a waiting vehicle.

The thefts occurred early in the morning between 12:30 and 5:45.So far the thieves have only netted about two hundred dollars.

GOLDEN — An employee trying to repair a stopped-up toilet at a Diamond Shamrock discovered a purse was the problem. The purse was in the toilet tank and contained syringes and a spoon. Police said the residue tested positive for heroin.

EVERGREEN — A customer of a convenience store here bought tobacco but when he asked for something to go with it, he went to jail.

The manager said the man came into her office and requested sex. She called police and he left but was tripped up because authorities found the information he supplied for the tobacco purchase and arrested him at home.

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

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