O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
February 2021

Columnist — Joyce Trent

DENVER — Despite a last-ditch appeal to the courts, cigarettes sold by convenience stores and other retailers are costing a lot more this year.

In November, Colorado voters approved a referendum increasing the tax on cigarettes from .84 cents a pack to $1.94, progressively rising each year until it reaches $2.64 a pack in 2027. It establishes a minimum price per pack of $7 per pack this year, increasing to $7.50 in 2024. Eventually an inventory tax will be imposed.

In addition, vaping products are taxed for the first time.

The theoretical purpose is to stop teenagers from smoking and increase the state's revenues which have taken a big hit during the pandemic.

Convenience stores will get one break as out-of-state sellers are required to collect and remit the same Colorado cigarette and tobacco taxes. And it includes cigarette wholesalers and tobacco and nicotine product distributors who sell directly to consumers in this state.

But it hurts local retailers who sell and companies that distribute off-brand cigarettes at a discount. A lawsuit filed by two of those companies maintained that requiring a minimum price on a pack of cigarettes amounts to price-fixing and gives premium cigarette companies an unfair advantage. They were unable to get an emergency stay from a judge.

Colorado flag

LOVELAND — Some cities, not content with taxing flavored tobacco products, want to ban their sale altogether.

However, faced with growing opposition, the City Council here postponed a vote on the measure to reach out to those businesses affected for their input.

DENVER — Not everyone thanks heaven for 7-Eleven.

The joint venture that owns the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel succeeded in driving out the convenience store that leased a portion of its building. The store closed as part of a settlement with Denver HS-EF Court Place LLC. It had served the store with multiple letters of default, claiming the facility had dirty windows, shattered glass, open cleaning closets, and unapproved signage.

The 7-Eleven was owned by a company founded by Kenneth Monfort, son of a Colorado Rockies co-owner. He was the first to sue, alleging the venture embarked on a "bad faith" mission to terminate the lease immediately after he signed it. He believes the store wanted the space to expand.

The joint venture then counter-sued and in addition to other claims said there was an incident in which pepper spray was pumped through the air vents and into the hotel.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Bread & Butter, a convenience store that aims to fill a niche left by the departure of Carlies, opened recently to serve the downtown crowd.

Aubrey Day and Stacy Poore canvassed locals in the area to develop their business plan.

The pandemic provided some supply chain problems and delays but the owners persevered and received a warm welcome when it opened.

The owners promise to create and constantly adapt, offering a source of fresh food along with sugary treats. "The variety just hasn't been here," said Poore.

They expect the business to thrive as housing continues to expand in the downtown area.

Both owners are on site daily, taking suggestions and recommendations from customers. And they are quick to respond.

"You can request something and it's possible that a couple of days later it would be here," said Day.

CRAIG — There is a high demand for properties leased to high-credit tenants that operate essential businesses, such as convenience stores, as reflected in a recent high-dollar sale of a Kum & Go.

Avid interest in the store drove the price to $5.9 million or $1,500 a square foot. The property is located in the center of town along a highway with a signal intersection and is surrounded by national retailers like a Walmart Supercenter, Walgreens, McDonald's, O'Reilly Auto Parts, and City Market.

The buyer was Buchtel Realty Investors Craig LLC.

"Single-tenant net lease investor interest has remained high through the pandemic," said Zach Wright of Blue West Capital, the company that represented the seller.

The property features a long-term triple-net lease with zero landlord responsibilities while the lease includes 7.5 percent rental increases every five years.

"Gas stations and convenience stores that qualify as a retail motor fuel outlet are eligible for significant bonus depreciation options. "Depending on the investor's needs, you can immediately write off up to eighty percent plus of the asset's value after acquisition," said Blue West's Tom Ethington, who co-partnered the deal.

AURORA — Dutch Car Wash provided over $40,000 worth of free washes to essential hospital workers, teachers, and first responders over a six-month period.

"If we work together with our community we know we'll pull through these uncharted times," management said. "Our community couldn't do this without them and we want them to know we appreciate all that they do to get us through this."

THORNTON — Living Water has opened its fourth car wash location in the Denver metro area. Like the others, the Thornton wash offers options starting at $8 and includes free self-service vacuums and mat cleaners.

DENVER — Ideal Market, a Whole Foods spinoff, has opened in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The Amazon-owned market had been shuttered for three years and is now coming back as Ideal Market with a different brand and a refreshed layout.

It features an inspirational design to match the name, including an entirely pink and white corner dubbed "beauty bar" with skincare, makeup, and jewelry.

A "bottle bar" sits at the front where customers can buy craft brews in bottles and cans from ten local Denver brewers to take out or to sip in seating provided.

PUEBLO — Stores usually like repeat business, but not when the business is robbery.

Police are looking for four people they believe robbed an Alta store and returned a week later to do it again.

The crooks obviously were looking to stock up for the holidays, taking phone chargers, a case of sexual enhancement pills, and vape pens as well as cash.

Authorities think they will soon capture the suspects after publicizing surveillance videos that showed their peculiar gaits and mannerisms.

Hitting the same store twice or more seems to be a growing trend among robbers.

Another stand-out robber in Pueblo, who targeted JR's Country Store, sported a blue mask with wild orange hair and nose.

FORT COLLINS — A carjacker soon abandoned the stolen vehicle after discovering an unexpected passenger in the back seat.

The victim's dog no doubt had plenty to say to the driver about the wild ride that started at a gas station where the owner went inside to make a quick purchase. The shaken suspects were found in a field a short way from the ditched car. The dog retained his cool.

ARAPAHOE COUNTY — Sometimes a clerk can follow all the employer's guidelines for handling a robbery and still lose his life.

Facing a gun in his face the convenience store clerk put cigarettes and money from the register into a bag as ordered but, as he was handing it to the robber, the thief shot him. The 24-year-old cashier died during surgery.

Originally published in the February 2021 issue of the O&A Marketing News.
Copyright 2021 by KAL Publications Inc.

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