Pump prices plummet in day-long duel

A long day of gas price feuding between two neighboring Grand Junction gas stations continued late into the evening Tuesday.

The Valero Corner Store, 2520 Broadway, and Western Convenience, 2525 Broadway, spent the day playing a game of one-upsmanship, much to the delight of flabbergasted drivers who swarmed the two stations.

At 10 p.m., a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline had dropped to $1.779 at Valero. The price was 4 cents higher across the street at Western Convenience, which started the day by lowering its price to $2.029.

“I could see them changing (their sign) so I wanted to beat them to it,” said Valero assistant manager Kivi Ferrin.

Employees kept watchful eyes on each other’s plunging prices throughout the day. At one point, Ferrin said, she watched employees of Western Convenience poised with numbers on sticks waiting to see how low Valero’s gas prices would dip. Each time Western Convenience dropped prices, Valero would counter.

Ferrin said she text-messaged her friends, encouraging them to drive to the station to fill up.

“In the time it took them to get down here, the price had dropped 10 cents,” she said

Ferrin said she believed the lowered prices would stick around, but she wasn’t privy to that information. She also wasn’t told by their corporate bosses whether the station’s decreased prices were at a loss to the store’s profits.

Before the fuel price plunge, Ferrin paid $80 to fill the 22-gallon tank on her truck, but she was looking forward to paying less than half that now.

Earlier Tuesday, Western Convenience posted a $2.029 price for a gallon of regular unleaded in the morning, and then dropped it to $1.999 by the afternoon. It lowered to $1.969 before 6 p.m. and then dipped to $1.939 by 6:30 p.m. At 7 p.m., when Valero matched the $1.939 price, Western Convenience knocked its price down to $1.909.

“There’s been significant movement Monday night and today throughout Grand Junction” said Ken Jackson, district manager of Western Convenience Stores on the Western Slope on Tuesday. “We expect it to continue for the next couple of days.”

Jackson said the gas price war has been spurred by the cost of gasoline for retailers and because of competition — a new Valero store opened across the street from one of his stores.

Other stores responded with price drops, too, such as the Bradley Sinclair at 2903 North Ave, which was selling regular unleaded for $2.05 per gallon Tuesday morning.

Some hadn’t gotten caught up in the competition. The C&F Food Store at 2714 U.S. Highway 50, for example, was at $2.69 for unleaded Tuesday afternoon.

Officials with C&F said the owner was out of town and could not be reached for comment and said they “had no idea” what factored into the lowering of rates.

Carolyn Wolfe, manager at the Western Convenience Store at 2998 North Ave., said she did a gas price survey when she heard prices had dropped.

“I was sitting at $2.40 at 8 o’clock this morning,” Wolfe said. “I had a customer come in and tell me Bradley’s was at $2.04. I called my boss, and he informs me that the other store we have over in the Redlands is sitting at $2.02.”

She changed the price quickly to $2.05.

“I am praying it gets below $2. Let’s hope,” she said.

Clearly, her hopes were answered, at a handful of stations anyway.

AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report said the average price for regular unleaded fuel in Grand Junction was $2.53 per gallon on Monday, compared with $2.86 one year ago. That was down from a record $4.226 just more than three months ago.


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