O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
April 2020

Columnist — Joyce Trent

DENVER— A bill to ban convenience stores and grocers from selling flavored nicotine products is winding its way through the Colorado legislature now that the original draft was amended to exempt vaping shops.

The amendment resulted from a fiscal review showing that a wider ban would cost the State of Colorado at least $33 million in lost tax revenue as sales were expected to drop at tobacco outlets.

Retailers hit by the ban will lose many millions of dollars if the bill becomes law, according to Grier Bailey, executive director of the Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association, which represents most of the convenience stores in the state. It appears, however, that the proposal will have an easy passage. It sailed through the House Health and Insurance Committee on a 7-3 vote.

Colorado flag

Neighboring states will profit from Colorado's loss, Bailey predicted. "All you're doing is driving sales that could be used to support local communities, local governments, local schools, and sending them to other states. It makes absolutely no sense. It will dramatically increase black market sales, take away money from traditional retailers who actually do care about their communities."

Some opponents likened it to prohibition when liquor sales were outlawed. That only led to a boom in backwoods stills and underground marketing.

Legislators have put a high priority on banning flavored nicotine products because recent studies show a quarter of Colorado teens are vaping. One student who responded to the survey said her peers consider it a rite of passage. Some who do not vape said they had a hard time thinking of those who don't.

If the bill passes and is signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis the ban would take effect in September.

BOULDER — Dozens of drivers were affected by yet another mix-up of fuel at a gasoline station and one woman is asking for lost wages in addition to the cost of repair.

A string of incidents involving diesel placed in unleaded tanks has plagued the Front Range in the last year. The latest occurred at a Circle K.

Dani Alexander got gasoline and a short time later her car started having trouble. She had just had a tuneup and thought maybe the mechanic had failed to attach a line, but when the tow truck driver came he told her she was the second person he dealt with that day with the same problem.

When she called the gasoline station they told her the distributor put the wrong fuel in the unleaded tank. She was informed the $1100 repair bill, the tow, and the tank of gas would be refunded, but she just paid off her car and is fearful the mistake might cause problems later on. She said she can't afford to replace that vehicle.

Jennifer Mason wants more than compensation for repair. Her daughter who was driving the vehicle had to take a day off from work and she herself was unable to go to work for several days because her insurance company wouldn't pay for a rental. She is a driver for Instacart. She wants $540 in addition to the other costs.

Fifty-five other people reported on Facebook that they had encountered the same problem.

There have now been four incidents in which diesel was put in unleaded tanks. In each case the fault was attributed to the distributor. But that didn't ease the pain for the retailers.

They not only had to face a stream of irate customers but had to drain the tanks to replace the gasoline, losing business in the meantime.

CENTENNIAL — The International Car Wash Group (ICWG), headquartered here, has acquired fifteen wash sites in Texas and Oklahoma.

The firm, which bills itself as the world's largest local car wash, added four Baird Brothers Express Car Washes in Waco, TX., seven The Wash Factory locations — five in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and two in the suburbs of Oklahoma City — and four Your Express sites in Dallas/Fort Worth.

ICWG already has seven sites operating in Texas and several under construction. "We were looking to significantly grow in the Texas market and are fortunate to have struck deals to acquire three important operators to give us a large base for continued growth and expansion in both Texas and Oklahoma," said Jeff Maize, senior vice president of acquisitions.

It is ICWG's first foray into Oklahoma.

DENVER — Convenience stores and other retailers must begin charging customers ten cents for each plastic or paper bag requested under a new city ordinance.

The stores will get to keep four cents to help pay for free customer bags that meet the green criteria.

The Denver City Council took the action after studies showed Denver goes through about 200 million plastic and paper bags a year.

City officials said plastic litters the South Platte River and Cherry Creek and clogs the trash and recycling system.

There are exceptions for customers on SNAP, otherwise known as the Food Stamp Program. Those needing bags for fish, meat, flowers, newspapers and dry cleaning and take-out at restaurants also are exempt.

DENVER — A political group is fighting at the pump a proposal to raise the gasoline tax to repair the state's roads.

Americans for Prosperity is airing fifteen-second commercials on screens at gasoline stations urging motorists to tell legislators "Colorado families can't afford to pay more at the pump."

AFP, backed by Charles Koch, fought efforts in the past to raise gasoline taxes, arguing the state needs to shift its funding priorities to solve the problem.

Proponents of the tax feel the state's roads have deteriorated to the crisis point. The main revenue for road projects is the gasoline tax, but it has not been raised for thirty years.

DENVER — For the first time in more than a year the price of gasoline has dropped below two dollars in the state due to the Coronavirus scare.

A 7-Eleven and an Everyday convenience store in Parker were offering to sell a gallon of unleaded for $1.69 if the customer paid in cash.

In Colorado Springs, motorists were coming in from all over town to take advantage of gasoline priced at $1.95 at a Circle K station.

Convenience stores stocking any kind of paper product couldn't keep it on the shelves as groceries ran out because of customer hoarding due to fear they would be quarantined.

One man advertised on a neighborhood chat site that he had set up outside a convenience store and would sell a roll of toilet paper for $20. He said his nearest competitor in a parking lot down the street had a cheaper price but inferior product.

GREELEY — An employee of a 7-Eleven here was arrested after being accused of stealing $8,000 over six months.

Jashell Anderson, 31, pocketed the money in fifty separate incidents by scanning a product as if it had been sold, then returned for customer refund. The phony charges ranged from $73.36 to $446.32.

Police said Anderson admitted it, justifying the crime by saying she did not make enough money to support her family.

Because of the amount involved she faces a Class 5 felony, punishable by one to three years in prison, plus a fine of up to $100,000.

LONE TREE — After twenty-one years in business the Suds Factory Car Wash closed recently. A burger joint is planned for the space.

"We bought the dirt twenty-three years ago," said co-owner Greg Bomgaars. "It's kind of settling in, but I know as soon as they take a wrecking ball to this place it's going to hit home."

Lanie Maes, who has worked weekends as a greeter there was devastated. She said she knows many customers by name and has watched some grow up to become adult customers.

CLIFTON — Crystal Creek Car Wash has upgraded by installing a touch-free automatic system.

The wash allows a driver to enter a bay and receive a wash that does not includes brushes. Customers can also receive a free bumper scrub from an attendant four days a week.

In addition to the automated wash there are four self-serve bays, including an oversized truck bay with a high clearance and scaffolding for larger vehicles.

The business has been operating since 2001.

Originally published in the April 2020 issue of the O&A Marketing News.
Copyright 2020 by KAL Publications Inc.

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