O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
December 2021

Columnist — Joyce Trent

DENVER — Gasoline prices — which reached an all-time high here last summer — have come down some, but not nearly as much as is normal.

Street retail prices softened with the switch to winter blend, but still averaged $3.49 at mid-November and in some stations were as high as $3.57 — or higher. That amounts to $1.32 a gallon more than last year at the same time. A year ago the price was $2.17.

Skyler McKinley of AAA Colorado said it has to be taken into account that fewer people were driving during the height of the pandemic a year ago. "Demand is back. It was high demand summer travel season, but that will continue through the year because folks are tired of being cooped up. They are ready to travel — to drive, to get on a jet plane or cruise ship."

He also noted that U.S. stockpiles are at one of their lowest points in five years, attributable in great part to the reduced need to produce crude oil during the pandemic because it wouldn't be sold.

Colorado flag

A few stations in Colorado were selling at a little above $3. The lowest was in the eastern part of the state. Kiowa County offered unleaded at $2.99. The highest for a non-resort area was $3.76 in Huerfano County.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Forget the cash. Give me the cigarettes. That seems to be the growing trend in convenience store robberies.

New taxes and fees aimed at stopping smoking have caused the price of cigarettes to skyrocket in Colorado to the point that they are deemed as valuable a commodity as they were in Europe in the aftermath of World War II. Convenience store cash registers don't usually have much money in them, but selling cigarettes on the black market can yield a tidy profit.

The latest heist was pulled off by robbers getting a jump on Halloween, wearing what was described as creepy black and white masks three weeks before the holiday. The cigarettes were all they were interested in.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Police thwarted what could have been a disaster at a gasoline station when they took down a man about to set fire to the pumps.

They were responding to a report of a man with a knife at the station. When they arrived the man was trying to set the dispensers ablaze in an effort to get away. No one was injured and the pumps sustained no damage.

WESTMINSTER — If it isn't robbery, carjackings and identity theft, convenience stores are even susceptible to sustaining property damage.

A truck driver lost control, went over the sidewalk, and crashed into the front doors of a Rocket gas station here. The pumps were not damaged. The driver was.

DENVER — The Colorado convenience store industry is beginning to realize the profit to be had in selling CBD products.

Although the 7-Eleven corporate office vowed never to allow CBD in its stores it was unable to stop those who hold franchises. Some have set up vending machines to offer it.

U. S. sales of CBD grew by forty-eight percent between 2019 and 2020. Surveys show Colorado is the No. 2 market, right behind California.

That may have prompted Circle K to partner recently with Panacea Life Sciences to sell its CBD products in its 135 Colorado convenience stores. Circle K also will market them in stores it owns in New Mexico and west Texas.

Circle K will carry a variety of Panacea's products, some full-sized and others as grab-and-go options. The stores already have started to sell Panacea's Cherry Bomb gummies, Soothe topical relief salve, and a few grab-and-go products.

Analysis has shown many Coloradans using the products are looking for relief from pain, stress, and lack of sleep.

COMMERCE CITY — For the fifth time in four years gasoline company distributors have filled tanks at service stations with the wrong fuel, causing misery for motorists and a financial burden for the stations.

The Valero station affected doesn't even sell diesel, but its pumps were filled with the fuel recently. More than a dozen vehicles were damaged before the management realized what had happened and shut down the tanks. That didn't occur until after noon.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment division of Oil and Public Safety is examining samples at a state lab.

The station is independently owned. The owner said he had no idea the wrong fuel was in the pumps.

Mix-ups have occurred in various parts of the state. In 2017 a distributor put 500 gallons of unleaded in diesel tanks in Denver.

Twice in 2019 diesel was placed in unleaded tanks, once in Brighton in December, and in May in Colorado Springs, where dozens of cars broke down.

When it happened at a station in Boulder in 2020 the area's fire department became a casualty. One of its trucks was disabled.

In the Commerce City incident a motorist said, "My car started sputtering six blocks from the station."

Repair work on an affected vehicle can cost up to a thousand dollars.

LONGMONT — "She creates an environment in which you feel excited to come to work," said the company trainer who nominated Izzy Aguayo for the 2021 "Most Valuable Carwasher" award offered by Professional Carwashing and Detailing magazine. Izzy won hands-down.

Izzy is a site manager for Breeze Thru Car Wash, which operates in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. She has been there for six years. When she started at 18, she considered the job a way stop. "I had no idea what I was getting myself into," she said.

"The site was practically in ruins before she came along," said trainer Rhonda Hoffman. "She brought the site back up to speed and inspires the employees to love working there."

Hoffman told the selection board she personally had seen many a disgruntled customer come in and walk out with a smile on his or face. "Izzy takes the time to listen and empathize with her customers and make sure they are taken care of."

It's not only the customers that are the beneficiaries of her caring. Her employees are too. She listens to her team members. To keep the site well-run she believes her staff must be happy and well taken care of.

One employee said she was having a hard time in life and Izzy listened to her and helped her improve. "The respect I gained for her made me love working there and inspired me to overcome conflicts, not only at work, but in my personal life."

Izzy is no pushover, however. She sets goals and helps the staff achieve them. Many of her employees have become managers at other Breeze Thrus.

For her part, Izzy said the company "has developed me, pushed me, and has been a huge support to myself and my family. I've never experienced a company that invests so much into the people. I'm beyond proud to be part of the family."

DENVER — Colorado collected $34 million off a new nicotine tax in the first five months of the new year, about half of what was estimated to roll in, but still considers it a success.

Industry experts doubt it has caused many people to quit smoking and say it is more likely that smokers stocked up before the 84-cent tax on nicotine took effect in January. The voter-approved hike took the tax on a pack of cigarettes up to $1.94.

Sales of cigarettes soared in December of 2020, supporting the stock-up view.

The tax goes up again in 2023 when taxes on the manufacturers' list price for nicotine products rises to 35 percent from 30 percent. Before the new law kicked in, Colorado had no tax on nicotine products like vaping fuel and e-cigarettes.

The same legislation allowed local entities to raise the tax even more. The Lakewood City Council backed down from a proposed 20 percent increase. That would have priced a pack of cigarettes at $11.36. Small merchants balked, calling it harsh.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Maverik is taking another step in its plan to expand here and it also will aid residents in an area of town that has few food outlets.

The chain plans to build a 4,425-square-foot store on the same corner as a planned 350-unit apartment house that will offer low-income housing.

Maverik opened its first store here in October 2017. The new project will bring life to a site that has gone undeveloped since the city was founded 150 years ago. A spokesman for the chain said it was a perfect site for a convenience store because it's adjacent to two main corridors and the apartment complex, plus it is only half a mile from the highway.

Plans call for seven two-sided dispenser islands. The store will sell fresh food and packaged beer and wine, now allowable under a new law.

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

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