O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
February 2018

Columnist — Joyce Trent

CANON CITY — One of the last group of independent convenience stores in the area has called it quits, not long after celebrating its forty-first anniversary.

Dave McCallister and Alan Drake, owners of Fremont County's eight Kwik Stop stores, are selling out to Alta Convenience Stores, a Denver-based chain, which owns several stores in the state and is rapidly expanding.

For McCallister, the sale was a no-brainer. "It's time. This is my forty-fifth year in business."

An important factor in selling to Alta is that the chain promised to retain all the employees and managers. About 200 people work in the stores. One manager, John Menefee, has been with the company for 30 years. Some residents have been customers for the full 41 years.

McCallister started working at a grocery store in Penrose in 1972. In 1976, he and his parents opened a convenience store. When his father died he bought out his mother's interest and slowly started expanding, first to Florence, and then to Canon City.

Colorado flag

Drake was only thirteen when he started working for Dave and Dave's father as a stock boy and parking lot sweeper. He went to college but dropped out when Dave offered him a stake in the business.

Alta will be a good fit for the community, McCallister believes. He noted the chain's main charity is the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Kwik Stop has been an important community member giving out scholarships and supporting numerous other programs involving youth.

"We've made a lot of good friends here," Drake said. He has no immediate plans but will continue to work.

Both men praised their wives, Cheryl McCallister and Linda Drake, for putting up with the inconvenience of operating a convenience store.

DENVER — Alta Convenience Stores is heading an initiative to stop human trafficking.

The stores' long operating hours, public restrooms and ease of access put them in a good position to make a difference, management said.

Convenience Stores Against Trafficking (CSAT) is placing Freedom Stickers displaying the National Human Trafficking hotline and a message of hope for victims in c-store bathrooms because they are safe spots for victims to reach out for help.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Murphy USA is expanding its presence in Colorado.

The company, based in Arkansas, plans to build its first Murphy Express in Colorado Springs, according to documents filed with the city planning department. No timetable was given.

Murphy has a convenience store in Monument, nine others and three gasoline stations in the Denver area and northern Colorado.

The Colorado Springs facility will encompass 1,200 square feet with eight pumps.

Colorado has been deluged with new convenience stores in the past few years, mostly driven by large chains. 7-Eleven still dominates the market although Kum & Go is right on its heels.

That chain opened its first store in the state in 2012 and now has 20 area locations. Maverik jumped into Colorado Springs for the first time in October and plans a second store soon.

COLORADO SPRINGS — A series of arsons was capped off recently by a fire in a gas pump at a Conoco station.

Police are still looking for the person or persons who set nine cars ablaze before starting a fire in a pump at the gas station. The station was closed and firefighters were able to douse the blaze before it spread.

FORT COLLINS — You've heard of a bull in a china shop. How about a deer in a convenience store?

It happened at the Horsetooth convenience store near Fort Collins recently. And it wouldn't leave until it had a tasty delicacy to snack on.

That snack tasted so good the doe returned a little later with her whole family in tow — twin fawns and a young buck.

Store employees often see deer and other wildlife from the window of the store, which is located between Horsetooth Mountain and Horsetooth Reservoir, but never had them as customers in the past.

That all changed just before Christmas when the unusual warm weather prompted the help to leave the door open to catch a breeze.

"She waltzed right in," said employee Lori Jones. The wide-eyed doe strolled around the store, looked at the ice cream in the cooler, browsed through a spinning rack of sunglasses (mountain air sun can be blinding at times.), and walked up to the cash register.

Jones thought fast, then produced a homemade peanut butter bar.

With it she enticed the deer to leave and she quickly shut the door.

Whew, she thought, that was the end of it and they could all have a good laugh retelling the tale.

With the deer out of sight they re-opened the door.

But the doe obviously couldn't keep the story of the good treat to herself and 30 minutes later she decided to become a repeat customer.

Photos show the doe and her family all peering hopefully through the window.

In they came, and out they went, with another peanut bar.

This time the door stayed shut.

PUEBLO — Twelve years ago another animal arrived at a convenience store, but not by choice.

A tiny Jack Russell puppy, teetering on the brink of death, was left to die in the store dumpster.

But a store employee, getting ready to toss a load of boxes into the dumpster, veered from his usual routine and looked inside the steel container. There was a semi-conscious seven-week-old dog. He carefully lifted it out and called Pueblo Animal Services.

The pup had spots of blue spray paint on its coat and a multitude of puncture wounds, apparently caused by cigarette burns.

Miraculously, the dog recovered after receiving emergency medical care funded by Pueblo residents outraged by the cruelty.

More than 100 people offered to adopt the dog rescuers named Trooper, for his will to survive. A family that had just lost its Jack Russell was chosen. Despite the torture he had undergone the family said he was carefree and happy once installed in his new home.

Although the family has moved to another Colorado city, they still have Trooper, whose luck changed because of a caring convenience store employee.

FORT COLLINS — Breeze Thru Car Wash has expanded its presence in this city by purchasing a competitor.

The firm acquired Richie's Car Wash whose owner wanted to retire.

"We have always been good friendly competitors," said John Agnew, co-owner of Breeze Thru. "Richie had a real emotional attachment to the car wash and his customers. He wanted us to have it because he likes the way we do business."

For Agnew, who has been trying for nine years to get a location on the south side of the city to satisfy his customers, it was a win-win solution.

Breeze Thru will invest $700,000 in the facility, including installing a free central vacuum system, automated pay stations, and updated car wash equipment.

GREENWOOD VILLAGE — Colorado-based Leeds West Groups has acquired Auto Systems Experts of Davenport, IA., which operated 42 Midas, Big-O Tire and SpeeDee Oil Change & Auto Service locations in nine states, including Colorado.

The deal will increase Leeds' holdings to 97 locations in fifteen states, making it the largest Midas, Big O Tire and SpeeDee Oil Change & Auto Service automotive group in the nation.

Auto Systems Experts, Inc., was completely employee-owned. It was founded in 1957 and was one of the oldest Midas franchisees in the country.

LAKEWOOD — A car-jacker was accommodating to his victim, agreeing to drop him off at the gasoline station where he worked so he wouldn't be late for his shift.

The worker told police he was approached as he was leaving home for work at 4:30 a.m. by a man in a black hoodie who was brandishing a gun. He demanded the keys to the car.

The employee, who didn't want to be named, pleaded with the car-jacker to take him to work, and he did.

The thief used the vehicle to steal drugs from a pharmacy, rob a bank and conduct a home invasion. The homeowner managed to escape.

When police arrived at the residence they found the suspect making himself at home and devouring the drugs he got as fast as he could down them.

COLORADO SPRINGS — A convenience store here managed to get itself robbed before it was even fully built.

A man wanted a vehicle to rob a nearby ATM. So he stole a tractor at the Kum & Go construction site and drove it into the ATM. But it failed to crack the box and the robber left with no cash for his trouble. He was not polite enough to return the tractor.

DENVER — Immigration agents raided six 7-Eleven stores in the Denver area last month in a nation-wide crackdown, but failed to find any employees here illegally.

But the pre-dawn raid kept customers and suppliers stalled in the parking lot for a long time.

The agents verified that the cashiers had green cards and subsequent inspection of all employee records did not turn up a single person for deportation.

Originally published in the February 2018 issue of the O&A Marketing News.
Copyright 2018 by KAL Publications Inc.

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