O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
August 2019

Columnist — Joyce Trent

DENVER — The Colorado convenience store industry has seen a thirty percent increase in beer sales in the six months since a new law took effect allowing it and grocers to start selling full-strength brew, reports Grier Bailey.

Although chain grocers and discount stores like Costco pounced on the opportunity, filling shelf after shelf, worries that they would grab the lion's share of the market have not materialized.

"The new law has certainly changed the benefit for grocery stores, but we have benefited as well," said Bailey, executive director of the Colorado/Wyoming Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.

Colorado flag

The market for beer is certainly there. A recent study showed Colorado was number 22 in the consumption of beer before the law changed in January, and early indications supported the idea that allowing expansion of outlets would produce more revenue for the state. A state analyst reported in January that statewide beer sales in that month alone increased twenty percent. The state taxed 9.8 million gallons sold, 1.6 million more than for the same period last year.

The liquor store industry here held a tight grip on sale of full-strength beer until 2019, fending off 10 years of efforts to allow convenience stores and grocers to get in on it. The latter retailers had been restricted to selling 3.2 beer since 1935, two years after the end of Prohibition.

The law that took effect in January allowed all who held licenses for 3.2 beer prior to 2019 to convert automatically to full-strength beer. Those that wanted to start selling after that faced restrictions. Their stores have to be 500 feet away from a liquor store or school. Twenty percent of their gross total sales must be in food.

Large liquor store operations are weathering the change better than independent retailers. And competition is very hot in areas where gasoline stations are in the same megaplex as chain grocery stores.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Many companies are shying away from doing business near shopping centers with dwindling traffic, but one convenience store chain thinks it is the perfect place to build here.

Kum & Go has submitted a proposal to the city to erect a 5600-square-foot store just northeast of the Citadel Mall, which has lost several important businesses in the last decade.

Kum & Go plans to raze a vacant medical training facility and replace it with a convenience store, half a dozen fuel dispensers, and twenty-three parking spots.

The area has been identified as troubled, with the mall struggling to stay afloat in the wake of online shopping and consumers abandoning old malls for new centers that are not under one roof but clustered in a massive parking area.

Kum & Go entered the Colorado Springs market in 2012, announcing plans to have 24 locations within a few years. It now has twenty.

COLORADO SPRINGS — The city has approved the construction of a Maverik gas station and convenience store in the Ivywild neighborhood despite fierce opposition from residents who fear leakage into the nearby Cheyenne Creek and harm from increased traffic.

Opponents cited city code establishing a streamside overlay zone which explicitly prohibits convenience stores with gasoline pumps from being next to the creek. Maverik requested a variance.

City planners assured the City Council none of the gasoline station components would be inside the buffer zone of 78 feet from the creek, leading the Council to approve the construction.

But because part of the land is inside that buffer, the entire property is designated as streamside overlay, requiring Maverik to make improvements along the creek, including a trail and vegetation.

Maverik promised a state-of-the-art system for trapping runoff and fuel spills, including detention basins and triple-walled pipes to keep contamination out of the water. The company also believes customers will mainly come from surrounding streets and not divert to the area to fuel up, avoiding an increase in traffic.

DURANGO — Former Conoco and Shell gasoline stations and Giant convenience stores in southwest Colorado have recently undergone upgrades, including new Speedway signs as a result of purchase by Marathon Petroleum in late 2018.

The twelve outlets affected are in Bayfield, Cortez, Durango, Hermosa, and Pagosa Springs. Marathon also plans to add enhanced security features to credit card chip readers, including encrypted credit and debit card technology and increased payment security features to protect from skimming devices.

It also will establish a loyalty program.

PALISADE — The Sinclair gasoline station and Dino Mart here has a new owner.

Kameron Okuma said there were a lot of kinks to work out, but business is picking up.

It helped that he has started to sell boat tube accessories and CBD products along with the regular merchandise.

The station is open 24 hours.

Okuma moved to the area ten years ago from Seattle where he worked for the Department of Corrections.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Gasoline prices here dipped to a three-month low ahead of the Fourth of July, reflecting a healthy inventory.

A gallon of unleaded was selling for $2.616, fifteen cents cheaper than a year ago at the same time. Statewide prices were higher, at $2.673.

COLORADO SPRINGS — goPuff, a convenience store without a store, has expanded into this city.

The digital convenience retailer, based in Philadelphia, stocks 2,000 of the products normally purchased in a convenience store in centrally located warehouses. Then they deliver the products on request from noon to 4:30 a.m. so customers can satisfy an instant craving or sudden need.

The company was established by two Drexel University undergrads in 2013. From delivering 50 basic products the company has expanded to full convenience store size, operating in more than 65 markets.

The orders are placed through the goPuff mobile app or goPuff.com.

Users scroll through the screens, pick out what they want, and place their orders, which are delivered for a flat fee of $1.95.

Snacks, beverages (including beer), groceries, even school and pet supplies are available.

COLORADO SPRINGS — MILES Express carwash will expand into Colorado with two locations, the first here in 2019 in the northeast section of town.

The chain specializes in fast work and a quality product, it said.

Each carwash provides advanced exterior washing as well as complimentary self-service vacuums, towels for wheels, body and windows, and some cleaning chemicals for more detailed self-service.

The wash features a 130-foot long tunnel, advanced chemical applications and state-of-the-art cloths, enabling a deeper clean in a shorter amount of time.

"Unlike any other carwash service, MILES Express is both a luxury and an affordable concept rooted in unparalleled customer experience," said one of the investors, Greg Post.

He noted the Colorado Springs location is the first branded license turnkey expansion for the company.

DENVER — A Colorado Fast Break convenience store has brought in the popular Naughty Chile Taqueria, a quick service restaurant focused on authentic Mexican food. It is the only location in Colorado.

Pynergy's Colorado Fast Break features in-door seating and catering.

At a grand opening, a free street taco was offered to school teachers, law enforcement, and the military.

Although Naughty Chile is based in Colorado, it had never had a restaurant here.

PUEBLO — Mister Car Wash has added another location in Colorado with the acquisition of Patriot Carwash here.

The latest acquisition brings to 300 the firm's carwashes, which operate in 21 states.

COLORADO SPRINGS — The vehicles of numerous motorists were severely damaged when a petroleum supplier driver accidentally mixed lines and filled unleaded pumps at a Circle K convenience store with diesel fuel.

At least 21 vehicles were initially identified as affected by the mixup after their drivers unknowingly filled their tanks. Those vehicles only made it a few miles from the station, located at the junction of Highways 24 and 94, before they broke down.

Tierney Emery's brand new Honda Odyssey was one of the affected vehicles. "Ten minutes into driving, we noticed our car was making some pretty funky noises," she told KRDO. When they took the vehicle into the dealership she said there was a swift diagnosis. "We were told we had diesel fuel in the car, not unleaded."

The owner of an automotive repair shop said, "It's going to affect everything with the fuel system, the fuel tank itself, the pump, all the fuel lines, filters, injectors, and the combustion system." Scott Zarling estimated the cost for repair could run into the thousands.

After Kailey Borata's truck wouldn't start she told KRDO she called Circle K and was told by an employee they were aware of the problem but offered an untenable suggestion: "a ghetto way" to fix it: "That we could let it run in idle until the gas tank emptied. I said, "I don't want to fix it the ghetto way. I want you guys to fix it because this was your mistake.'"

The store manager later repeatedly apologized for her employee's statement and is promising customers affected that all the costs for the fillup, towing, rental, and repairs would be reimbursed.

It was determined that the truck driver for the supplier, Streamline Petroleum, had gotten the hoses crossed, dropping diesel into the unleaded, and unleaded into the diesel tanks.

The gasoline station had to shut down while three Streamline tankers pumped 16,000 gallons of diesel out of the unleaded pumps. Customers were told to file claims, which would be forwarded to Streamline.

That still left owners of the damaged vehicles without transportation as they awaited word on when they would get a rental.

DENVER — To mark Earth Day H2WOW Carwash donated half its sales between April 22 and 23 to Wash Away Thirst. Together the two carwashes raised $2,508 for the charity which helps third-world countries provide clean water to their population.

H2WOW prides itself on recycling eighty percent of the water used in its carwash.

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

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