CHECKING OUT

Alvarez would have seen plenty of evidence if he'd let them try the case, the Fords say. They have the projections calculated by Jackson. They have Yates's brochure of Five Points Plaza, with plenty of free parking on paper that failed to materialize on pavement. Arevala was ready to testify that Jackson had called many times, encouraging the Fords to do the deal. Even former King Soopers exec Jim Baldwin was listed as a witness; he'd been paired with Joyce in a chamber of commerce mentoring program. "I like them," he says. "They have a successful business at Scott's."

And now the Fords wonder how long they'll have that. They plan to appeal Alvarez's ruling, but if they lose the legal fight they'll have to declare personal bankruptcy--and they don't know how that will affect Scott's Market. They don't know if Five Points will lose a longtime landmark just because its owners were suckered by the city's sales pitch.

Faithful Scott's customers planned to go to court Monday. Instead they gathered at the store, where they signed a petition supporting the couple's right to a jury trial. "We did not go to the Mayor's Office to request a loan," it notes. "How many of you would not have believed these professionals that represent our City and County of Denver? Is it possible that my husband and I are the only people as gullible as we have been?"

"It's just like you buy a car," Ron Ford says, "and it's a lemon and it doesn't run, but you still pay for it."

As a grocer, he knows his lemons. And he knows when he's been squeezed.

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