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CANYON CITY, Colo. — Four decades after ringing up its first customer, Kwik Stop is still going strong in Fremont County.
The first Kwik Stop convenience store was built by Hank and Verna McCallister in Penrose in 1976. Hank and his son Dave operated the store until Hank passed away in 1983. Today, Dave McCallister owns and operates the convenience stores with Alan Drake, according to The Daily Record.
"It's been a fun journey, but not an easy one," McCallister said.
While Drake may not be an original owner, he has been with Kwik Stop almost since the beginning. He joined the retailer in the summer of 1978 as a stock boy and parking lot sweeper, the news outlet reported.
He later left college to partner with McCallister and today they own eight Kwik Stop stores, some individually and some jointly.
"The thing I like is you have, as opposed to many businesses, you have so many customers," McCallister said. "You deal with so many people, and the majority are wonderful."
Drake also told the news outlet he enjoys the interactions with customers, many of whom have been patrons for 40 years, as well as the many visitors to the area.
Both partners credit the retailer's success in part to the store managers and employees. The Kwik Stop stores employ between 140 and 150 individuals. "We are very fortunate to have very good managers," Drake said. "Their longevity is tremendous. We have a lot of long-term employees, and we are very fortunate in that aspect."
Kwik Stop offers food, beverages and gift-type items, as well as fuel. In the past two years, the partners have added four car washes. McCallister said they work hard to keep up with the times and remodel as needed, according to The Daily Record.
"We want to be a little different," Drake said. "Everybody offers Twinkies and Cokes, and we want to give people a different reason to be here."
According to McCallister, while today there is opportunity for people to own individual businesses, it's getting more and more difficult to do so. "We're one of the few independent convenience stores in the area that's not chain operated," he said.
Today, Drake has taken over most of the management operations of the business, but retirement is not in McCallister's immediate future.
"I still love coming in and going over sales, I love being involved in trying to decide what the customers needs are now as opposed to 20 years ago," he said. "I've always enjoyed putting the business together, and Alan gets to run it."
Kwik Stop's future includes some store remodels to add fresh deli items, he added.
To mark its 40th anniversary, in November Kwik Stop offered its customers discounts and specials, as well as a chance to win prizes.