O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
February 2017

Columnist — Joyce Trent

CANON CITY — Kwik Stop celebrated its fortieth year in business in Fremont County recently.

Kwik Stop is one of the few independent convenience stores in the area. Most are operated by major chains.

The first store was opened in Penrose in 1976 by Hank and Verna McCallister. When Hank died in 1983 his son Dave McCallister, who had worked there since the outset, took over the reins, expanding as the years went on.

Today he is a partner with Alan Drake, who started as a stock boy and parking lot sweeper. Drake eventually dropped out of college when Dave offered him a stake in the business.

Colorado flag

Each owns some of the eight stores individually and some jointly.

They employ between 140 and 150 people and credit their success to picking good managers, who in turn picked good employees. Many of the employees have served long-term.

McCallister said one of the joys of ownership is that "you deal with so many people and the majority are wonderful." Many of the customers have been coming for the full forty years.

"It's been a fun journey," McCallister told the Canon City Record, "but not an easy one."

The owners try to keep up with the times. They recently installed four car washes and offer food, drinks and gifts as well as fuel. They are planning some remodeling to add fresh deli items, Drake said.

Because of their support from the community, McCallister and Drake make sure they give back. That includes sponsoring the annual Parade of Lights, Easter egg hunts, 4-H livestock sales, the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival and the work of numerous groups: Rotary, Boys and Girls Clubs, Casa, and Orchard of Hope. "Kids are a priority for us," McCallister told the newspaper. "We hardly ever say no to a youth program."

As McCallister has grown older he has surrendered much of the management duties to Drake, but keeps his hand in, going over sales figures, seeing what needs to be done, and planning for the future. He is mindful that "it's getting more and more difficult" to own a small business. "You have to keep up with the times and that is expensive."

Drake's son, Spencer, is continuing the family line. He soon will manage one of the stores on the highway.

The anniversary celebration included perks for the customers — discounts, sales and prizes.

THORNTON — Walmart opened a hybrid store here in its latest bid to wrest market share from the standard convenience stores and supermarkets.

Called Walmart Pickup with Fuel, it is part convenience store, part gasoline station, and part online grocery shopping.

It is only Walmart's second such operation. The other is in Huntsville, Alabama.

Grocery orders are placed on-line and filled at a designated drive-thru at the store. After getting their groceries customers can gas up at the pump and grab a snack.

Although Walmart has 20 supercenters and neighborhood markets in Denver offering free on-line grocery pickup, Pickup with Fuel is the only location with a gasoline station on site.

The interior resembles the average convenience store, with hot dogs, donuts and drinks, and with signs advertising "same low price. smaller store."

The 4,000-square-foot store also offers items other than groceries that can be picked up there through on-line order.

Gina Kretoski, e-commerce market coach said, "The way customers shop is changing and Denver offers great insight into what our customers want."

In recent years on-line grocery sales have increased 11% per year. In Denver, many food delivery businesses have started up and Safeway recently put into operation its first fleet of on-line grocery delivery trucks to compete with King Soopers which has offered the service for years.

There are a few mainstay grocery items that can be picked up at the store if someone doesn't have time to order on-line.

During bad weather the drive-up will mean customers can stay in the car instead of hauling a load of groceries to the trunk.

GRAND JUNCTION — Rocky Mountain Convenience Stores had the Christmas spirit in spades.

The chain, which operates five Wienerschnitzel Express and Shell convenience stores, sponsored a "No One Goes Hungry on Christmas" promotion, offering free hot meals to anyone who asked. Those people received two hot dogs, French fries, a drink and a Tastee Freez soft-serve cone.

Santa made an appearance at the stores as well.

The program was offered last year, but was expanded this year because in the past it drew 500 people in two hours at two locations.

COLORADO SPRINGS — A new twist to scam motorists at convenience stores has hit here. This one is perpetrated inside the store at ATMs and is far more sophisticated than the one where a device placed on the pump could be detected by close observation.

Police said the thieves install two components, one a small camera that captures video of the person using the ATM, swiping the card and inputting the PIN. The other is the actual skimmer attached to a fake cowling where thousands of numbers can be captured.

Police detective Wayne Lambert said the fake cowling is colored and matches the cowling on the machine. "It fits so well and is not readily identifiable." The little pinhole camera takes a good picture of the person running the keypad.

He said thieves targeted these machines because so many people like the convenience of getting gasoline, a snack, and money from a small ATM.

In the first case reported here he thinks the installer had a partner who distracted the clerk long enough to get the device in place. A clerk provided a description of a man who lingered around the checkout counter one day, shooting the breeze, but so far no one has been arrested.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Some days a crook just has no luck.

Johne Newell thought everything had gone well. He had his money from the cashier at a 7-Eleven and was on his way out the door when he bumped into a police offer who had developed hunger pangs during his overnight shift.

Spooked, Newell tried to run away, but the officer was quicker.

Newell was booked on suspicion of aggravated robbery.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Kum & Go has opened its first Marketplace here, designed to change the look of the average convenience store.

The centerpiece of the 620-square-foot store is a large open food preparation area. The store also features seating, both indoor and at a heated patio outside.

Wide, easy-to-navigate aisles, fresh takeout food and a complimentary wi-fi and charging stations are among the other features.

At the grand opening the first 99 customers in the door were given a coupon for a 99-cent pizza.

CEO Kyle Krause said the new store "represents everything Kum & Go strives for: more for customers and employees."

More Marketplaces are planned in Colorado and in Missouri and Iowa.

LAKEWOOD — Talk about trauma. Many a convenience store clerk has had to endure robberies, shoplifting, and other stressful events, but an employee in this city faced a new horror when a man bled to death right in front of him.

The man staggered into the store, said he'd been stabbed and then fell to the floor, mortally wounded.

The police have an idea as to who the assailant was, but have their work cut out trying to identify the victim. There was no ID on him.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Carjackings at the gasoline station are on the increase in Colorado.

Within one week two area women were not only carjacked at the pump, but dragged across the station parking lot.

Another incident, not so violent, occurred in Aurora.

On the evening of New Year's Day, Kaitlynn Sartor was putting air in the tires on the passenger side of her Jeep when a man got into the driver's seat and drove away. Sartor hung onto the vehicle, screaming at the man to stop. She was dragged for a hundred feet before letting go.

She said she had no pockets in her pants so she had hidden her keys inside her purse and put the purse under a sweatshirt.

Even though she had kept a close eye on her surroundings she was shocked when she felt the vehicle move. She walked around the side of the car and saw a man in the front seat.

"I said, I was like no, this is not happening. My first instinct was to fight back and get my vehicle back."

The Jeep was the only transportation to get to work and her kids to school. She had undergone hard times lately. She said she felt if she lost her car "I'd lose my job, my ability to keep a roof over my kids' heads."

She tried to warn the thief she had a bad engine but he kept going fast as he could until he blew it up.

The victim was treated for a concussion and road rash at a hospital.

Her friends started a funding campaign on-line to get a new engine and her employer is helping.

Two days later a woman in the suburb of Fountain was pumping gas in broad daylight when a man jumped into her car. When Monique Henry opened the door, he found the electronic key and drove off with her hanging on, screaming for help. He pulled her and the pump across the parking lot.

Last summer Heidi Gutierrez of Aurora had just finished pumping gasoline in the afternoon when she felt a tap on her shoulder. "I turned and there was a guy with a gun pointed right at me."

The man demanded her keys. "He said I'm going to shoot" when he couldn't find the keys. "I said, 'They're right there.'" He spotted them and drove off. She was not injured.

But not only did he get her purse, ID and credit cards, he also took photos of her husband who was murdered in a carjacking twenty years ago.

Originally published in the February 2017 issue of the O&A Marketing News.
Copyright 2017 by KAL Publications Inc.

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