O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
August 2017

Columnist — Joyce Trent

ASPEN — On the heels of a new ordinance designed to curb expansion of chain stores the city council here has dealt the convenience store industry another blow by outlawing sale of cigarettes to anyone under 21.

Convenience stores in Colorado rely on cigarette sales for a good portion of their revenue.

Aspen is the first city in the state to enact such a measure. Proponents say it is an attempt to reduce the number of teen-age smokers.

Colorado flag

Included in the ban are all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, which have gained in popularity in recent years among those who are trying to quit or smoke without ingesting so much nicotine.

The law does not prohibit teenagers who are eighteen from smoking in the city but they will have to go outside the city limits to get their smokes. One nearby place is a business center near the airport in the county, but that may not be available for long as a doctor behind the drive to stop teen-age smoking is planning on trying to persuade the county to take the same step.

Convenience stores and other purveyors of tobacco products will now have to obtain a license for that purpose.

The city will suffer financially as a result of its action. It will have to forego about $75,000 a year in sales tax because the State of Colorado will not remit a portion of the tax collected on cigarettes back to local communities that pass their own regulations.

And city finance officials estimate it will cost about $3,000 a year to administer the program, which includes outreach, vendor education and bi-annual inspections of stores that sell tobacco.

The law takes effect Jan. 1.

ARVADA — Looks like Walmart's effort to cut in on convenience store sales is fizzling.

The Neighborhood Markets, small versions of the Supercenters offering much of the same grab-as-you-go items convenience stores do, are closing one by one, replaced by more Supercenters.

The latest closure affects a Neighborhood Market in Arvada. That store will be consolidated with an older general merchandise store in Wheat Ridge into a Supercenter in Arvada.

Walmart has closed a number of its smaller format Neighborhood stores in the Denver metro area recently and plans to slow opening of new stores to focus more resources on e-commerce, technology, and remodels of existing stores. Included in the remodeling planned are stores in Colorado Springs, Brighton, Aurora, Frisco, and Avon.

An exception to the plan is a new hybrid store opened recently in Thornton, which offers convenience store items, gasoline, and on-line grocery shopping.

DENVER — If nice restrooms are a factor in where you buy gasoline — and it apparently is — according to a recent survey, Kum & Go is where Coloradans want to go.

Gas Buddy users gave the chain the highest bathroom rating of all convenience stores and gas stations in the state. And many said it made the difference in selecting a location to fill up.

DENVER — A second metro Denver car wash fell victim to a data breach through its credit processing vendor.

Waterways Ride-thru in Cherry Creek and Lone Tree informed customers their names, credit and debit card numbers, and security codes were accessed. The number of people affected was not disclosed.

In a prior report a Waterworks Car Wash said three to four thousand of its customers had their data stolen through malware placed on a third party point of sale system.

DENVER — Now that things have settled down Pester Marketing is forging ahead with a plan to bolster its retail business.

In a little less than two years two whirlwind transactions occurred that prompted the industry to wonder "who's on top now." World Fuel Services bought Pester Marketing and its subsidiaries, Alta Fuels LLC and Alta Transportation LLC. Eight months later Western Alta holding LLP, parent company of Alta Convenience Stores, bought the retail division and operating company of Pester Marketing from World Fuel.

The resulting company operates as Pester Marketing and the c-stores retain the name Alta.

Rich Spresser, the president, who has a long history with Pester, said they are trying to get back to their roots as "a direct store operation with the entire focus on day-to-day store operations."

That doesn't mean stagnation. The company said it is very focused on growth, hoping to not only expand in Colorado but in other states as well.

Already in 2017 Pester has acquired six stores from a company based in Grand Junction, rebranding them Alta, which brings the count to 61 Alta Convenience Stores in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and New Mexico.

The company is actively considering two more purchases.

The management considers it imperative that the operation be streamlined. As it is now, there are a wide variety of store sizes and interior designs. A consistent look is the new goal.

Also included in the renovations is a complete revamping of merchandise and the merchandising program. This will involve removing slow selling items and offering more general merchandise, candy, and snacks.

The company also is looking at possible sites for new buildings.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Maverik, the Salt Lake City, Utah-based chain, will open its first two stores here in the fall as it moves ahead with expansion into the Pikes Peak region.

One store is undergoing site preparation for opening in late October. Construction on another will start this month and the facility is scheduled for a late November opening.

The chain wants to have 30 Front Range stores as it mounts a challenge to long-standing chains that have saturated the state in recent years.

DENVER — Colorado gasoline prices ended in June with a price drop for the fourth week in a row, leveling off at the same amount as in the year before.

Unleaded was selling at an average of $2.27 a gallon, down ten centers from the previous month.

Pueblo experienced the lowest price at $2.02 a gallon. The highest was $2.58 in the mountain town of Glenwood Springs.

Diesel fuel was selling at a statewide average of $2.36, up ten cents from the previous year.

GREELEY — The robber was on a roll, hitting two convenience stores in two days without a hitch, but then things went downhill, starting when he chose to sport what a Denver Broncos fan he was.

In the third and fourth robbery a day later clerks told police the man wore a No. 26 blue Denver Broncos jersey.

In the last incident, the clerk refused to give up the money so the robber fled and got away, but not before a passerby saw him and noted the license plate on the silver Chrysler 300 he drove.

Confronted at his house, the suspect, Angel Escalera, conceded he did one robbery, but denied the others. Unfortunately for him, police found the Broncos jersey and white grocery bags such as the ones the cashiers described the robber bringing to carry the loot.

COLORADO SPRINGS — The venerable Acorn Petroleum Company is one of the victims of an accountant who used the credit card numbers of customers and her employers to pay her bills and buy treats for herself.

Gabrielle Haynes, 33, was arrested after a police track dog sniffed out her hiding place in the posh Broadmoor area of the city.

She faces identity and other theft charges.

She had worked in the accounts receivable department at Acorn for two years. A client discovered after using his card there he was billed for nearly $4,000 in charges at a toy store, a home building goods store, and a major discount outlet. He also was charged for a mattress delivered to a co-worker of Haynes.

An audit of the books showed Acorn's company card was used for six months in 2016 to purchase $29,000 worth of goods and services. They included two concert tickets in her husband's name and a ticket to a Denver Broncos game. She even boldly posted photos of one event on her Facebook page with the caption, "What a great night," authorities said.

When her utility bill came in too high, she used the company card to pay it, according to the affidavit.

A background check later revealed she had been fired from a garage door company for allegedly taking inventory and selling it.

DENVER — Rex Oil Company, headquartered here, has been sold to Rhinehart Oil Co., Inc., of American Fork, Utah.

"We are extremely excited about this acquisition," said John Jardine, CEO of the Utah fuel and lubricants distributor. "It expands our reach in the Rocky Mountain region."

Rex Oil had been in business in Colorado since 1937.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Now robbers aren't content to steal from convenience stores. In a recent incident, they also took the clerk's car.

They arrived on foot and apparently decided they needed a car to make a quicker getaway.

And violence seems to be increasing. In another area robbery a clerk was shot in the foot for no apparent reason. Another clerk was knocked in the head.

SECURITY — A convenience store vacated years ago has new life.

The Karanjeet Singh family purchased the property and has been restoring and updating it. They added takeout items such as chicken tenders, shrimp, chicken fried chicken, a variety of dipping sauces and sides, including mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and red beans and rice.

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

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