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Lower Gasoline Prices Squeeze Locally Owned Fuel Stations

Michael Clapp/OPB

Costco and ARCO gas stations have pushed their gasoline prices down to $2.99 a gallon in the Portland market.

While that may be nice for drivers,  small, locally owned stations are feeling the squeeze.

Gas prices in Portland haven’t been this low for almost two years. Gregg Laskoski, a petroleum analyst with the price tracking website, 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, who owns Redland gas station just outside Oregon City, says 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.

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

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