Lower Gasoline Prices Squeeze Locally-Owned Fuel Stations

(photo by C.M. Keiner via flickr)

(Kristian Foden-Vencil, Oregon Public Broadcasting) Gas prices in Portland haven't been this low for almost two years.

Gregg Laskoski is a petroleum analyst with the price tracking website GasBuddy. He says big stores like Safeway are using cheap gas as a loss-leader. "When you sell gasoline at the lowest price in the market, you're bringing a lot of traffic into your store," Laskoski says. "And while a certain number of those folks will certainly buy gas, many of the same consumers are going to come in the store and buy many other things."

Brainard Brauer owns Redland gas station, just outside Oregon City. He says he understands the benefits of a competitive marketplace, but Costco is now selling fuel for less than he can buy it. "It hurts me as the owner to see customers upset and even angry, for us charging a higher price than a Fred Meyer, Safeway, and now a Costco, that is seriously undercutting the market."

Brauer says he appreciates a competitive marketplace, but he says smaller stations may be driven out of business by such gas prices.