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Letter to the Editor

Edgefield Fuel explains gas pricing


web posted September 17, 2008
Dear Editor.
These past few days have been filled with a great deal of confusion and speculation in regards to local fuel pricing. There is no doubt that some of this is due to simply not understanding what is going on; therefore I will try to address some of your questions below.    

What caused the fuel panic?

I believe radio and television are responsible. They were predicting total doom last Thursday because of (category 2) hurricane Ike. Because of this, our Edgefield customers were filling up just about anything that would hold fuel. Consequently, we went through three days of fuel supply in less than 12 hours of business.

Why do you have such large differences in fuel prices between stores?

In Edgefield, the excessive demand on Thursday and Friday simply ran all of our fuel tanks dry. I had to buy at the top price Friday night just to get gasoline for Edgefield. In Johnston, Saluda, and McCormick, the demand for fuel was much less, and there was an ample supply of lower priced fuel left in those fuel tanks.
Had there been less panic in Edgefield, we would have had fuel at a lower price.

How can you raise the price of fuel when there has not been a tanker on your property all day?

Each time we order fuel, three of our stores usually share one tanker truck. We never “fill-up” a store’s fuel tanks with one tanker or one price. This practice minimizes our risk in certain market conditions and keeps inventory costs lower. Our stores will have multiple layers of different priced fuel in their tanks.
When the sales volume is extraordinarily high as it was last week, we will burn through different priced layers of fuel in a very short period of time.

Why are you price gouging?

I am not price gouging. In Edgefield, for example, I bought gasoline for two stores at $4.82 a gallon. We sold it for $4.99 a gallon. If customers paid for their fuel with a credit card, we made about 5¢ a gallon. 
 

Why does the store on Main Street in Edgefield sell gas only to government vehicles?

Gasoline is in short supply. I told the town government that I would guarantee fuel for the police and fire departments if there were a threat of no fuel in town. This is not the case any longer and things are back to normal there.  

When will prices come down?

I am reading that prices should begin coming down in around 10 days or possibly sooner. I believe at some point during that time frame prices will drop drastically in a very short period of time.

In closing, I would like to say that our business is nothing less than high stakes gambling. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Each day we are betting by buying a wildly unpredictable (fuel) commodity and in turn selling it in an extremely competitive marketplace.

In the next few days we will surely see the fuel price drop and our company will certainly lose by having fuel product in the ground costing more than the market will bear. It’s inevitable. Consequently we will sell this gasoline at a loss. Don’t worry…. I won’t complain that you are gouging me.

Joel Jolly,
Edgefield Fuel and Convenience


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