High gas prices hurt station owners too

Prices posted at a gas station where the fuel is selling for over five dollars a gallon on March 16, 2012 in downtown Los Angeles, Calif. Widely fluctuating gasoline prices is just one indication that high gas prices are as a much a problem for independent station owners as they are for consumers.

Sarah Gardner: On my way into work today, I stopped at the gas station to fill up: $4.35 a gallon in my neighborhood. I was inclined to chew out the station owner until I read today that service station owners aren't too happy with high gas prices either.

Marketplace's Jennifer Collins hit the streets of Los Angeles to talk to gas buyers and sellers.


Jennifer Collins: I'm at a Chevron near downtownLos Angeles.

Collins: $4.31 a gallon for regular.

To talk with Angelenos about everyone's favorite subject the price of gasoline.

Donald Morris: It's too damn high. I'm realizing this is a major expense.

Donald Morris has just paid $57 to gas up his Ford Explorer. A few blocks away at another Chevron, he would have paid nearly $7 more. I found Tom Gladney and his Mercedes there.

Tom Gladney: I don't really pick gas stations. Sometimes, we try to find it where it's a little bit cheaper.

But why is gas cheaper at one station or another?

Taylor Cash: The oil companies can do what they call zone pricing.

Taylor Cash owns a filling station inRaleigh, N.C. He says the price he pays his distributor is sometimes is much more than a station just down the street. Today, Cash is charging $3.97 a gallon for gas. He paid $3.98 for that.

Cash: So when you buy a gallon of regular gas from me. Every gallon, I have to pull a penny out of my pocket.

Cash does a healthy business selling wine, high-end coffee and breakfast. But he says the high price of gas hurts him too as customers cut back.

Cash: Now maybe they skip the biscuit and coffee and just make it at home or just do without.

The National Association of Convenience Stores says when prices spiked five years ago -- 2 percent of stores closed up shop -- which may have many of them saying.

Donald Morris: It's too damn high.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.


Gardner: So why do you fill up where you do? We put this question on Twitter this morning. Surprisingly, most people said convenience over price.

Want to join the conversation? Write us here. You can also ping us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

About the author

Jennifer Collins is a reporter for the Marketplace portfolio of programs. She is based in Los Angeles, where she covers media, retail, the entertainment industry and the West Coast.

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