O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
September 2019

Columnist — Joyce Trent

DENVER — So many convenience store chains have moved into or expanded in Colorado in the last few years it would appear there wouldn't be room for any more. Not so, according to industry sources. The market, they say, is "red hot."

The West has seen some of the highest population growths in the country, according to Census Bureau figures. Denver alone gained more than eleven thousand new people between 2017 and 2018.

And the repeal of a law that prohibited convenience stores and grocers from selling anything but 3.2 beer has spurred to action chains that had been wavering over stepping into the water. "That's going to provide a lot of growth," said Mike Thornbrugh, spokesman for QuikTrip, which is venturing into Colorado for the first time. "It's one of the reasons we're going."

Colorado flag

Kum & Go is expanding rapidly in Colorado and intends to overtake 7-Eleven, which still has a dominant hold on the state. Golden Gate Petroleum recently opened its second station in Colorado. It touts its beer cave, including a walk-in refrigerator. Yesway is eyeing the state.

In addition to population growth, the industry cites opportunities for outdoor recreation, a steadily growing job market, affordable housing, and progress toward a more diverse culture. Colorado recently elected its first openly gay governor.

The threat of on-line competition has not deterred those contemplating entering the market. They say young people will buy a lot on-line, but still want the convenience of a quick stop at the convenience store to get gasoline and pick up a few items.

That doesn't mean convenience stores can offer the same products and services. Higher-end items, free wi-fi, and delivery will entice consumers and they are willing to pay the price, industry analysts believe.

The experts say it is important to take stock of the community and its unique needs before entering the market.

Colorado Springs, for instance, has a high military population and special offers keyed to them will produce profits.

BEDROCK — It only has one gasoline pump, but what it lacks in pumps, it makes up in charm.

The Bedrock Convenience Store is a quirky convenience store/gas station near the Utah border that, despite its remote location, attracts people from far away. Even a film company came to shoot a scene for the movie "Thelma and Louise."

Those who come usually stumble on it on their way to bigger places, but soon stop to check it out, encouraged by an owner who warmly urges them to "come on in, have a coffee." He prepares the coffee on an old country stove in the middle of the store. Some shop or chat, and some just like to sit on the old porch in a rocking chair sprayed by a cooling mist.

Anthony Pisano, who co-owns the place with his wife, Sarah, is an artist, rock collector and farmer. He sells artwork and jewelry by local artists, camping equipment and dog harnesses and leashes, along with essentials for day-to-day living. But he's not in it for the profit. The store allows him to indulge his favorite passion: chatting. He urges customers to "Call me brother" and is apt to give a hug along with a cheerful wish for a good journey on departure.

But that departure often takes a while. One woman who stopped for a soda ended up spending an hour. It's just that friendly a place.

Motorists first come upon a dilapidated but working pump and sign. The store is housed in a weathered wooden building. There are curtains on the windows and even an old-fashioned working wall phone on the porch.

Built on solid rock that gives the store and town its name, its roots go back to 1882. Then it served a thriving community of ranchers and miners and their families. The town had two hotels and two saloons. For a while the store held the post office for the five hundred residents.

Today, the population has dipped to fifty-three.

There's not a whole lot of traffic. "A couple of Indians come by for supplies," Pisano said. Otherwise it is usually someone on the way to somewhere else.

Once in a while an earthquake occurs — the last one was in March. They describe it as "a whole lot of shakin' goin' on," but so far no one has been injured and folks take it in stride and the town and the store survive.

WIGGINS — Another small town has a station that is a "hidden gem of a gas station," according to one customer who lavished praise on the internet.

Stubbs Gas & Oil deserves "five stars," said Thor, an Englewood, Colorado resident. He described the sausage breakfast burritos as "Yummy."

"It's also the best-smelling as station I've ever been to," he wrote.

DENVER — A new Colorado law has given local government entities more power to regulate nicotine product sales, including e-cigarettes.

Those powers can, in some cases, restrict sales more than the state allows for.

One of the methods local governments can use is to ban sales to anyone under 21 without forfeiting its share of state tobacco tax proceeds. And, if voters approve, a special tax can be levied on sales.

Breckenridge, which already has one of the highest taxes on the product — a pack of cigarettes now costs $6.75 — is mulling whether to add a special nicotine tax.

CENTENNIAL — A 57-year-old gas station clerk who shot a boy attempting to rob the store where he worked has been fired.

A surveillance video showed a teenage boy sticking a gun in the face of the clerk who was not named.

The clerk took out his own gun and fired once, hitting the suspect in the stomach.

He had a concealed weapons permit, but Suncor, the owner of the Shell station, issued a statement saying, "Suncor's agreement with its independent operators prohibits the carrying or possession of firearms on the property, regardless of whether the firearm is permitted."

The suspect is 14, so his name and any details of the follow-up will not be made public. The clerk has not been charged with a crime.

COLORADO SPRINGS — A car wash owner whose business was vandalized and robbed has offered a cash reward and six months of free washes to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the two men who committed the crime.

Surveillance video showed two men using a truck to drive in and steal a coin machine.

DENVER — Gasoline prices are coming down.

From a high of $2.85 in June the average street price of a gallon of unleaded in the middle of last month dipped to $2.61, according to AAA Colorado.

Last year at the same time a gallon of unleaded cost motorists an average of $2.81. Colorado Springs averaged the lowest last month at $2.50, while Vail topped the state at $3.13.

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

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