O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
October 2016

Columnist — Joyce Trent

CENTENNIAL — Less than a year after filing for bankruptcy protection in U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado, Western Convenience Stores Inc. has paid all its creditors in full and says it is now positioned to "grow and prosper."

The success of its reorganization plan was facilitated by a loan provided by affiliates of Garrison Investment Group and secured by Western's real estate and other assets.

Playing a vital role was Petroleum Equity Group hired by Garrison to advise Western and evaluate its final exit plan.

Colorado flag

"We are delighted to have successfully completed our restructuring and emerge from the operational strains of bankruptcy," said Hossein Taraghi, president of Western Convenience Stores. The chain had continued to operate as a debtor-in-possession which allowed it to generate needed revenue.

Taraghi praised Garrison and Petroleum Equity saying its management team "appreciates the support and assistance" of both.

Eric Rosenthal, Garrison director, said it was a complicated deal and the first of its kind it had entered into, but he was pleased with the results.

The debts cited in the bankruptcy petition totaled nearly $10 million, which included a disputed $7 million claimed by Suncor Energy USA. Western filed for bankruptcy to thwart a foreclosure action on 37 of its properties initiated by Suncor.

Other creditors included Offen Petroleum, High Plains Bank, Vectra Bank and the Colorado Lottery.

The independent discount retailer grew from one store in 1989 to 44 convenience stores in Colorado and Western Nebraska and a truckstop and two liquor stores in Nebraska. Growth started accelerating in 2001. Most of the convenience stores are in the greater Denver area.

DENVER — Smoker Friendly, a Colorado-based convenience store chain, has hit a bonanza in the demand for smoking accessories, especially since the state legalized the sale of recreational marijuana.

Smoker Friendly discovered that marijuana dispensaries and recreational retailers, while providing some marijuana-laced foods, did not sell as many accessories as customers wanted.

To fill that niche the convenience store chain began stocking bongs, pipes, grinders and vaporizers, even developing a line of its own — Glass Werx. Vaping accessories were found to be especially lucrative. Inclusion of these products has attracted a younger crowd, officials said.

Smoker Friendly also experienced an increase in tobacco accessories as the economy turned for the better.

Lighters, for example, are an impulse item, says Mary Szarmach, vice president of trade marketing and government relations. She said most people buy a lighter when they buy a carton of cigarettes. By stocking Bic, which prints sports labels on their products, a lot of sales are generated. The chain sticks with that brand and a few others.

But it stocks a wide range of prices, from inexpensive to higher-end products.

Smoker Friendly is a sister company to the 90 Gasamat fuel and convenience stores in five states: Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah and Nebraska.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Maverik, the Utah-based convenience store chain, will open its first store in this city next year, the beginning of a major expansion in the state of Colorado.

It is entering a very competitive market. The 7-Eleven has the most locations, with more than 50 stores in Colorado Springs alone, and Kum & Go has mounted an aggressive campaign to challenge it, having reached 20 to date. Also in the market are Loaf 'n Jug, Circle K, Everyday Convenience Stores and Alta.

But Maverik figures it has something different to offer, citing larger size (up to ten pumps) and fresh food at a grill that serves breakfast and lunch with customer seating.

The company, which bills itself as "Adventure's First Stop," considers Colorado, with its many outdoor recreational facilities, a natural for its expansion.

Its store decor picks up the outdoor theme, with pictures of mountains and waterfalls, wood-look flooring and natural light. "The design is intended to make people think they are walking into the great outdoors," said Aaron Simpson, chief marketing officer.

The store, to be located in the central area of Colorado Springs, will encompass 5,500 square feet. It will have a board and batten facade — wide boards and narrow wooden strips — and a heavy timber entryway, according to plans submitted to the city. Stone veneer will ring the bottom of the structure.

Officials also have selected a site for a second store in the city and are scouting for other sites. Eight new stores are planned for the state.

Currently Maverik has seven locations on the western slope of Colorado and single stores in Castle Rock and Fort Morgan.

The chain, founded in 1928 in Wyoming by Reuel Call, was named for "Maverick," an American western TV show that ran in the fifties and sixties.

There are now 270 Maverik stores in ten states and the company is still run by the family.

Although the location of the Colorado Springs store is just south of a road lined with convenience stores, Simpson said he believes by offering something different people will go a little out of the way to do business there.

The target date for opening is May or June. No date has been set for the other stores to be established next year.

LAKEWOOD — Pickering's Auto Service celebrated its fortieth anniversary in September.

The store, founded on Sept. 10 1976 by Randy Pickering, is still owned and operated by him. His three children have joined him.

"Our goal is to build trusted, long-lasting relationships with customers while extending the life and safety of their vehicles," said Pickering. He pointed out many customers today were there in the beginning.

DENVER — Colorado gasoline retailers are selling gasoline for prices at the lowest in a year and way lower than the national average.

The average rate for a gallon of unleaded at the end of September was $2.14. At the same time last year it was $2.49. Nationally, a gallon of unleaded last month was running motorists $2.20.

In some areas of the state the price had dipped below two dollars. Thornton hit the lowest at $1.90.

The largest metropolitan areas, Denver and Colorado Springs, had average prices of $2.10 and $2.09, respectively. The highest was in the mountain town of Aspen.

Colorado has not suffered from shortages experienced by some areas of the country.

DACONO — She was a one-woman disaster at a U-Pump-It gas station here.

Police said a fifty-eight-year-old woman, un-named at that point, was driving a U-haul truck in the parking lot of the station when she lost control, hit several cars, a gas pump, and plowed into a young man, dragging him across the lot and out into the street.

The victim was taken to a medical center in Lafayette and was in critical condition at press-time.

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

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