O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
June 2022

Columnist — Joyce Trent

DENVER — A bill to ban flavored tobacco and nicotine products passed the Colorado House but was quickly rejected by the Senate on a 5-2 bipartisan vote.

The bill, which positioned itself as reducing teen smoking, failed to get out of the Appropriations Committee.

"Smoking in schools has been going on since before I was born and I don't know if this is going to stop that," said Senator Robert Rodriguez, who joined four others in voting no.

A survey showed Colorado has the highest amount of teen vaping in the country. "I am incredibly disappointed," said Kyle Mullica, one of the sponsors. "We wanted to fight for the health of our communities and kids."

Colorado flag

He blamed the tobacco industry for pouring a huge amount of money into lobbying against it.

In fact, the bill was one of the most heavily lobbied issues in the legislative session, with 140 lobbyists, representing 90 clients, weighing in.

Originally the proposal called for banning the sale of flavored vaping products, e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes, hookah, chewing tobacco and cigars. Even amendments exempting hookah, premium cigars and pipe tobacco were not enough to sway legislators in the Senate. A ban on menthol was particularly onerous because it is so popular.

Convenience stores, whose sale of tobacco and nicotine products represents a large portion of their revenue, have already been hit hard by a huge graduated new tax on cigarettes, which they believe drove many customers out of state. Passage of the ban would further decrease sales, they maintained.

For smoke and vape shops the ban would have been disastrous, the industry said. Smoker Friendly estimated thirty percent of their tobacco products are flavored. They are very popular.

Governor Jared Polis was against passage, saying the issue should be left up to the area localities. The ban also likely would have affected his new program providing free daycare for children, which depends on funding from taxes on tobacco and nicotine.

DENVER — An initiative to allow convenience stores and other food retailers to sell wine is slowly making its way to the November ballot, but no one is celebrating yet. A court challenge is expected.

The Secretary of State set a title that enables supporters to collect the 124,632 signatures needed for the state to certify the measure for the ballot. That number was determined by a rule that requires valid signatures of five percent of those who voted in the last general election.

Supporters now have three months to gather those signatures and, once they submit them, the state has to verify a sampling of at least 4,000. If that sampling is verified, the initiative will automatically be certified and placed on the ballot.

In 2018 the legislature gave the go-ahead for food retailers like convenience stores to sell full-strength beer. It took years of fighting to get to that point. This time supporters of the wine proposal decided to go to the initiative route. The liquor store industry is adamantly opposed to any further incursion into its territory, but some wonder how much competition it would face because convenience stores likely couldn't find space to stock much.

DENVER — After two years of struggling to get off the ground, Melody Market, located in the underserved minority neighborhood of Five Points, has opened.

"I'm bummed that it took as long as it did to open, but it's a beautiful feeling," said owner LaSheita Sayer.

Although it has all the trappings of a convenience store, it also has a cultural ambience with a bow to Black history.

When customers enter the red-painted store they are greeted with photos of Black celebrities like Maya Angelou and Louis Armstrong. The soft music of a bygone era, with songs such as "Unforgettable," and "Blue Moon," accompany them down the aisles.

The store boasts 1,400 SKUs, including fresh produce, but that is only the beginning, Sayer said. She has stopped people on the street and asked them to tell her their favorite foods. Then she sets out to supply them. She says she wants to serve everyone, not just the Black community, although that was the impetus for the enterprise.

For the convenience of workers she is open seven days a week.

Sayer already had business experience when she began planning for the store. She has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years and operates a successful public relations firm, but she had no idea how much effort and money it would take for this project.

To meet the requirements of the city she had to create new designs that cost over $20,000. There were obstacles such as having to relocate plumbing. The neighborhood people's contributions to a Go-Fund Me site convinced her it was worth going on. She had to learn the language of permits and reviews of the city.

Sayer said she felt she was under the same scrutiny as a big-time developer. "We were just a little store and it was an enormous effort to get into compliance." She hopes to use her experience to mentor future business hopefuls.

AURORA — With the price of gasoline soaring above $4 a gallon, thieves are taking a bold approach to cash in.

An Exxon station was victimized to the tune of 2,000 gallons of gasoline and 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel in one incident caught on film.

The thief had the audacity to pull up in a big truck and pump the fuel into tanks in the back with a remote to avoid paying. He remained at the station for hours.

It either was an inside job or someone who knew enough about the pumps to override the operating system and change settings on its computer, station management said. Police are looking for the culprit.

That follows an incident in Denver where a thief made off with $410,000 worth of diesel last year using stolen credit cards. He was caught with 750 gallons.

DENVER — Super Star Wash, based in Phoenix, is expanding into Colorado.

Just recently, it has changed from a family-owned business by transferring a majority stake to TSG.

Seven Colorado locations are planned, with the firm already gaining approval for one in Lone Tree. It involves demolishing a current building on the premises and erecting a 3,870-square-foot facility with a 110-square-foot wash tunnel, three pay stations and 21 vacuum stations. A spring opening is envisioned.

One planned for Broomfield will be even larger — a self-service wash on a 5,227-square-foot site.

By the time the expansion is complete there also will be three locations in Denver, three in Colorado Springs, and one each in Parker and Brighton.

Super Star Wash was founded in 1993 and expanded to California in 2016. From there it quickly took off, now serving thirty-five locations in the Southwest and West.

COLORADO SPRINGS — It was a quick trip to a convenience store that turned into a parent's worst nightmare.

A car with a woman's two children, aged three months and four years old inside, was stolen from an eastside gasoline station. Apparently the thieves didn't have an inkling of their cargo and as soon as they did they abandoned the car a few blocks away. The youngsters were returned shaken, but safe, to their mother.

DENVER — Go Car Wash Group, which bills itself as the fastest growing automated car wash operator in the U. S., has received a financial boost that will enable it to grow even faster.

The Richardson Family Group, which already held a small stake in the business, decided to make a major investment after gaining a view from the inside.

"The management team has done a phenomenal job in successfully scaling the business up in less than three years of operation and they have an exciting vision to be the world's most admired car wash company," said a spokesman for the Richardson group.

Founded in 2019, Go Car Wash now operates close to a hundred car washes in seven states, making it the fifth largest car wash operator in the country.

It is expected to turn over $200 million in 2022. The owners were inspired to take on its colors and logo by Carroll Shelby, an American driver who won the Le Mans 24-hour race and famously developed a line of Mustang cars for Ford Motor Co.

DENVER — Choice Market keeps gaining new ground.

Owner Mike Fogarty expects to open his fifth location this summer and it is keyed to the university trade.

He signed a lease for a 3800-square-foot space near the University of Denver.

"It is a natural fit," he said. "We've been wanting to get outside of Denver's true urban core and extend our delivery ratios down south."

The store will have a separate turnstile entrance to allow a 24/7 operation where customers can pay all night using its app or a mobile credit card.

Originally published in the June 2022 issue of the O&A Marketing News.
Copyright 2022 by KAL Publications Inc.

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