O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
April 2018

Columnist — Joyce Trent

PUEBLO — Loaf 'N Jug, headquartered here since 1973, will now have a foreign owner.

Kroger, which acquired the chain in 1986, has reached an agreement with EG Group of Blackburn England to sell its 762 convenience stores for $2.15 billion.

Kroger operates 170 stores in 18 states, including Colorado and Wyoming, under the Loaf 'N Jug name. In other areas their stores operated under the Turkey Hill, Kwik Shop, Tom Thumb, and Quik Stop brands.

The acquisition marks EG Group's first foray into the United States and will bring its ownership of convenience stores up to 4,400. The U.S. headquarters will be in Cincinnati.

The stores will keep their current names.

Colorado flag

The convenience stores generated only three percent of Kroger's sales in 2016, with revenue of $4 billion, in comparison to overall revenue of $115 billion, Kroger said. They sold 1.2 billion gallons of gasoline in that year.

Loaf 'N Jug was founded by Puebloans Paul Jones and Sam Sharp. Kroger took over in 1986 and kept the headquarters there.

In announcing the possibility of a sale last year Kroger's CEO Rodney McMullen noted heavy competition from chains such as 7-Eleven and said, "It just looks like the economics make sense to sell."

Future plans for the Loaf 'N Jug division, the Pueblo headquarters complex, and possible expansions or closure is "premature to discuss," a spokesman said.

Whether the new owner will keep the popular loyalty/fuel discount programs at Loaf 'N Jug was not addressed.

Loaf 'N Jug was one of the pioneers of a shopper loyalty program. Fuel Discount cards were first offered here in 2003.

LAMAR — Pilot Flying J has expanded, opening a Pilot Travel Center here recently. It is the fourth location and is expected to employ 80 people and generate $2.2 million annually in state and local tax revenue.

The center offers 10 high-speed gasoline and six diesel pumps, a CAT scale, a driver's lounge with shower facilities, convenience store products and a Western Union. The complex includes several fast-food restaurants.

"We are thrilled to serve the Lamar community and contribute to the local economy with our new travel center," said Ken Parent, president of Pilot Flying J.

DENVER — He should have just kept going. Instead he stopped for gasoline in the stolen truck and was nailed by technology.

Joel Gardea said he used the OnStar app to track his truck after it was stolen outside his home. It showed the truck was at a Conoco 15 minutes away so he and his pals raced to the scene. Fortunately, it was taking the thief a while to fill up so Gardea called OnStar and the company disabled the vehicle and activated its alarm.

Gardea then confronted two suspects and grabbed one but the other one got away. Soon an SUV pulled up and a man pointed a gun at him, so he let loose of the man he was holding. But, in another unfortunate twist for the crooks, an ambulance crew happened to be parked nearby and saw the whole thing. They alerted police and the police were able to track the SUV to some townhomes behind the gasoline station, where the rest of the gang were arrested.

It was double trouble for the thieves because it turned out that the SUV also was stolen.

COLORADO SPRINGS — What's in a name?

Car wash owner David Begin believes the right name will strike a cord with potential customers, especially if the name makes people think of something of which their community is proud.

So he named his wash Wild Blue. That makes people think of the Air Force Academy whose fight song includes the lyrics "wild blue yonder." The wash's logo features a flying car with wings.

That seems to appeal to drivers. Begin says business has been good.

But the key to keeping customers goes beyond the name, Begin said. It is necessary to have a comfortable and clean place to wait, good service and positive interaction with them.

Employees try to greet each person coming in. Loyalty is rewarded with discounts.

Begin keeps equipment out of sight. No one, he says, wants to see a mop or ladder standing around. It speaks of disorganization.

As part of the interaction with customers he aims to educate them. His FAQ page not only tells the customer about the business, but gives them tips on how to maintain their vehicles in the area. Newcomers to the city need to know, for instance, that the city uses magnesium chloride, a salt compound, on its roads and that the compound can cause wiring corrosion and rust, so the more frequently drivers have their vehicles washed the better.

Begin is high on environmental protection, recycling 80 percent of the water at the wash and using biodegradable soaps.

That ties in with their charity car wash program. They encourage young people to use their wash instead of washing cars in a parking lot and wasting a lot of water.

The business donates 50 percent of the sales for a charity wash to the group and lets the kids vacuum and dry for tips.

ELBERT — Almost in the middle of nowhere is an old-fashioned convenience store with a couple of modern touches.

Hi-Test Filling is an independent station that promises "Gas, Goods, and Booze." It is located inside the Elbert Triangle where there is no cell phone, GPS, internet, land-based copper phone lines, radar, or sonic navigation service.

"It is advised you do no flying above the triangle," they warn.

The business is old-school in that there is no pay-at-the-pump. Along with the usual smoothies, cigarettes, candy and energy drinks, they offer chewing tobacco, jerky and DVDs for rent. They allow credit cards but do not require a certain purchase level to use one.

And if you want a bottle of booze you can frequent the owner's Hi Test Liquor, advertised as "It's not very big, but it sure is tiny."

In the spring and summer there are motor shows, billed as Motor Mash.

And if someone gets lost in the Elbert Triangle, "We will give you directions to escape."

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

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