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Colorado News —
September 2020

Columnist — Joyce Trent

COLORADO SPRINGS — Location. Location. Location. Pick the right one and you will thrive. Russ Mallery thought he had selected a good one: right downtown where office workers poured out onto the street at noon and tourists came by the hundreds to shop. Turned out he was right and he was wrong.

While most convenience stores in Colorado managed to stay afloat during the pandemic because they were allowed to remain open and are now seeing business pick up as hordes of vacationers have descended on the state, Carlie's Convenience Store closed.

Before the virus hit Carlie's did well as expected. Afterward, the downtown offices sent their workers home to telecommute and hotels, bars and restaurants were forced to close, cutting off the stream of customers.

Colorado flag

Carlie's had replaced a 7-Eleven on the corner and during its three years in business weathered vandalism and homeless camping on its doorstep without much help from police headquartered just across the street. But the virus was an enemy the store couldn't defeat. It devastated the store in just ten days.

On March 13, Mallery said, his store tallied $4,500 in sales. By March 23 the daily total was $100 in twelve hours of operation.

He is not out of business entirely. He still has a store in the northwest section of town that is doing well. "But I couldn't pull money out of that store to keep a business downtown going. It makes no sense to do that."

DENVER — QuikTrip has disclosed its plans for expansion in the metro area. The Tulsa-based chain will open fifty to seventy stores in and around the Mile High City.

The completion of the project is expected to take five years, but the company already is in talks with general contractors to begin construction with the first openings planned for early next year.

Spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said Colorado will become the twelfth state in which it operates. The decision to expand here was due to the rapid population growth and requests from customers on social media who had moved here from Tulsa.

GRAND JUNCTION — A quick-thinking carwash employee saved what would have been a total disaster when he grabbed a fire extinguisher to spray a vehicle on fire with two people inside.

The vehicle occupants were trapped on the track during the wash cycle by other vehicles as flames shot out their hood. They managed to get out as the Splash Splash Carwash employee braved the inferno to douse the blaze.

DENVER — Voters will be asked in November to raise the state's tobacco tax.

The Colorado Legislature fast-tracked a bill to passage before adjourning for the year in June. If voters approve the ballot measure it would progressively increase the cigarette tax.

All tobacco products would be subject to a gradual increase on taxes.

The cigarette tax, now at 84 cents a pack, would go up to $1.94 in January 2021, making the minimum price for a pack $7. In 2024 the tax would go to $2.24 a pack and in 2027 to $2.64 a pack and in 2027 to $2.64. In 2024 the minimum price per pack would be at $7.50. Later an inventory tax also would be imposed.

Non-nicotine products such as e-cigarettes and vaping devices, now untaxable, would be taxed. The tax rate next year would be fifty percent of the wholesale price and increase to fifty-six percent in 2024 and sixty two percent in 2027. Cigars would be taxed in the same manner.

The first increase is expected to raise $82.7 million in the beginning and ultimately $294 million when fully phased in.

To prevent customers buying in another state out-of-state sellers would have to impose the same taxes to Coloradans.

At the outset the money gained would be used to fund public schools to offset lost revenue due to the economic impact of the pandemic, later to focus on programs to stop smoking.

DENVER — The Auto Spa has been sold for $2.9 million.

The buyer, 12131 N. Federal Parkway LLC, will operate the wash as well as manage the property. It is the company's first car wash asset.

The seller, 1650 Canon LLC, put the property up for sale to have more time to work on its other properties and development projects. It has other washes in Northern Colorado and an office property in Denver.

The wash was built in 2007 and the new owner said it was so well-maintained that no renovations are necessary. It sits on 5,160 square feet. It recently was allowed to re-open after closure for several weeks.

ASPEN — Drive-in movies are coming back because of the Corona Virus and now one gasoline station owner has hit on reviving full service to increase business and avoid too many hands on the pump.

The Woody Creek Station at Aspen Village is offering free pumping service and window washing at all but four of its gasoline dispensers.

"I hired an attendant who approaches the driver and asks if they would like to take advantage of the service," manager Tanner Jeffryes said. "It is not mandatory, but customers seem to really like it," he said. There has been no increase in gasoline sales to compensate and Jeffryes said the service will continue even after the virus goes away.

Although rare, this station is not the only one in the state to offer full service.

For forty years the Conoco in Snowmass Village has provided full service and is popular among the elderly and less ambulatory.

There it costs about a dime more a gallon but includes oil level checks and air for the tires.

DENVER — 7-Eleven cancelled its popular Slurpee Day in July due to the virus. The program always drew packed crowds.

GREELEY — Missing children's photos were displayed on gas pump video screens in July.

The state-wide program was conducted in cooperation with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the gasoline station video company GSTV. Three children were initially featured.

DENVER — Last year Colorado gasoline prices came in below the national average in July. This year it is in the reverse.

AAA Colorado reported the price of a gallon unleaded in that month in 2019 was $2.81. The national average at the time was $2.85. This year gasoline in Colorado in July averaged $2.46, substantially above the national average price of $2.18.

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

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