O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
April 2019

Columnist — Joyce Trent

DENVER — For a while motorists could buy gasoline at under $2 a gallon in Colorado, but street prices are on the rise again.

Last month the state's prices averaged $2.21 a gallon. Even at that they were the nation's seventh lowest.

In Colorado Springs prices bottomed out Feb. 9 at a two-year low of $1.88, according to GasBuddy. The peak was in October, reaching nearly $3, but they fell steadily for four months after that.

Skyler McKinley, spokesman for AAA Colorado, said he doesn't expect dramatic fluctuations in Colorado in coming months because supply and demand are pretty stable.

Colorado flag

He expects prices to go up slightly over the next few months but to remain well below $3 a gallon for the rest of the year.

Oddly enough, most Colorado motorists opt not to search for the cheapest price, even when the costs go up, according to GasBuddy. Instead they frequent the same nearby gasoline station all the time.

The company asked 7,300 people why they did this. The response: convenience, procrastination, and failure to take advantage of loyalty programs.

More than a third said they wait too long to fill up. Thirty-five percent have nearly run out of gasoline. Thirty-nine percent wait until they have a quarter tank left, and another 18 percent wait until their gas light comes on.

Drivers in small towns lose the most money. Vail, for instance, is always higher. If a resident commutes from there to a larger city and would fill up there they could save a lot.

GasBuddy also suggests those who drive around town a lot should stop when they see a sale.

GasBuddy Analyst Patrick Dehaan said if a person wants to stick to the same station, he or she should at least take advantage of the station's loyalty program. But the survey showed forty-six percent don't.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Maverik still wants to expand in this city, but not everyone wants them.

"We don't need a gas station," Valerie Fix, a resident of the Ivywild neighborhood, wrote to the city. Her property abuts the street where Maverik is planning its third gas station/convenience store in the city.

"None of us have ever said, 'Gosh darn, I really wish I had a gas station,'"she said.

Undaunted, Maverik is seeking city approval to develop in a streamside overlay zone where city code explicitly prohibits convenience stores with fuel sales because of the potential for environmental damage. Residents fear a fuel spill or contaminant-laden runoff could flow into Cheyenne Creek, which connects to Fountain Creek to the south. The city code prohibits convenience stores selling fuel there.

Maverik said it is trying to work with residents to allay their fears. Dennis Riding, the company's environmental director, described a complex system designed to trap runoff and keep fuel spills from reaching the creek. It would include installation of three oil containment devices upstream of a detention basin estimated to hold thousands of gallons of fuel. But he did not satisfy the opponents who fear a one-hundred-year flood would overcome the defense system.

The city code also requires the developer to complement the natural streamside setting, minimize impact on wildlife, and incorporate trail networks.

Traffic is another key issue for residents. They pointed to Maverik's own commissioned study that predicted an average of 2,300 vehicles entering and exiting the station during the twenty-four hour weekday. Fix and her neighbors contend that is too many, that the neighborhood is already inundated with traffic, and that new development already calls for additional residential and commercial projects under the latest Urban Renewal Plan. With a new gas station they said people would exit the interstate to buy fuel there.

Maverik responded that its goal is not to lure people from other parts of town, but to attract those drivers who are already in the area.

A suggestion that the street be widened to accommodate increased traffic fell on deaf ears.

Maverik submitted its initial proposal to the city in November. It is now readying a revised application which city staff will use to develop a recommendation for the planning commission. That commission will make its decision and submit it to the city council.

DENVER — Is it ever over?

A glitch was discovered in a law passed last year after ten years of battle to allow convenience stores and groceries to sell full-strength beer.

So it was back to the legislature to correct what brewers said would have caused chaos in their industry that would have trickled down to their customers. Fortunately it did not take another ten years to correct. The revision sailed through both houses and became incorporated into the law.

Had there been no fix brewers would have had to make, store, and transport beer from separate facilities — one for convenience and grocery stores, another for liquor stores.

The problem resulted from language in the new law that lumped fermented malt and malt liquors together for the purpose of the Colorado Beer Code and the Colorado Liquor Code, requiring the brewers to get separate licenses under each code. The correction removes dual licensing.

BERTHOUD — Main Street Car Wash and Quick Lube management realized people can't often leave their jobs to take care of their vehicles so it started a Business After Hours program.

Recently, in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce, it hosted a networking opportunity for chamber members and their businesses in a Business Before Hours program. Light food and beverage were provided.

GREEN VALLEY RANCH — H2WOW Carwash celebrated the grand opening of its second location by giving 900 free car washes here. It paid off as nearly one hundred customers signed up for the company's Unlimited Club.

Those who signed up were entered to win a winter weekend getaway package including two nights in a hotel, lift tickets, tubing and equipment, and gear rental for up to four people.

The new car wash features free vacuum stations, mat cleaners, and microfiber towels. It uses filtered recycled water.

The facility also features two self-serve dog wash stations.

CARBONDALE — Self-service car washes are adding dog washes at a rapid pace in Colorado. A leading dog wash equipment business headquartered here says it makes good sense because a dog wash is profitable and low maintenance.

One in three car owners also own a dog, according to Evolution Dog Wash. And the dog owner washes his dog every three to four weeks.

The ability to multi-task is important to motorists, the firm says. Its surveys show a motorist will drive farther to get a car and dog wash at the same time. That creates more revenue and a loyal base at a time when automated car washes are squeezing out self-serve washes.

Evolution predicts if car washes charge $10 for a dog wash it will generate an additional $12,000 to $13,000 in revenue a year. All that is needed are utilities, power, water and a drain, said Gary Sherman, CEO of Evolution. Of the ten dollars, one goes for shampoo, electricity, and water.

The dog owner puts in his money, the water flows, the dog is soaped and rinsed, and blow-dried.

There is no need for shop labor, and Sherman says some dog washes are kept open twenty-four hours, making the car owner money while he sleeps.

DENVER — Mike Fogarty's Choice Market, an advant-garde convenience store targeting millennials who can use an app to order, has been so successful that construction has begun on two more.

One will be in partnership with the Denver Housing Authority to service low-income neighborhoods lacking nearby grocery stores with healthy food and fresh produce. The store will hire at-risk youth.

The second location will open in the second quarter of 2019. About 30 percent of Choice business is in delivery and, with the change to the liquor laws, Choice will be one of the first convenience stores in the state to offer delivery of prepared foods, groceries, and full-strength beer in one transaction.

The current store is in an apartment building in a downtown business area. It offers fresh prepared items priced at the top from $8 to $14. A customer can buy a steak sandwich with caramelized onions and mushrooms for $13 or go low with a wrap for $6 or $7. Leftovers are donated to a food bank.

The Choice Market has no gasoline pumps. But when the third store opens it not only will have fuel pumps, but also electric vehicle supercharging, a bike share terminal, and electric scooter charging stations. There will be a solar connection on the canopy and autonomous checkout.

Customers will have the option to skip the check-out by ordering and paying ahead with the Choice Mobile app.

"There's nothing more valuable than our customers' time and we are really excited to combine several different shopping events in one stop, while providing them the option to skip the check-out process all together," said Fogarty. "If customers cannot make it to the store, we will deliver to their doorstep in forty-five minutes."

Originally published in the April 2019 issue of the O&A Marketing News.
Copyright 2019 by KAL Publications Inc.

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