Small-town NC gas stations struggle to offer competitive prices

Posted February 20, 2013

Gas Prices

— On Monday, AAA listed the average price of a gallon of gas in the Triangle at $3.69. On Wednesday, the price shot up 7 cents to $3.76.

fuel tracker logo stacked Fuel Tracker: Find lowest gas prices

It adds up quickly enough for drivers who have plenty of options for filling up. For those in small towns outside the Triangle, fewer gas stations can make it tough to find lower prices.

In the heart of Warrenton, visitors can feel transported to another time with its old-fashioned gas pumps and full-service stations.

Odom Motor Service, which has been around since the 1950s, pumps gas for its customers and offers them a place to sit down inside and enjoy a sandwich. But even the old-fashioned appeal can't get away from modern day prices. Within the past two weeks, prices have risen 30 cents a gallon.

“It’s ridiculous. The prices are ridiculous,” said driver Stefon Alston.

In a rural area like Warrenton, many of the customers have a long way to go to get to the gas pump.
Rachel Robinson says she has to drive about 15 minutes.

“Well, by coming uptown to get gas, it gets me out of the house because I live in the country,” she said.

Every time she's in town, Robinson gets a little bit of gas at Odom Motor Service, even if the prices are a little higher than the competition close by.

“I love to socialize,” she said.

On Wednesday, Odom's prices were 9 cents higher than the closest competition.

“(That’s) because we cannot buy in the volume that the chain stores can buy in,” said owner Frances Sondgeroth.

Customers say they just wish the prices everywhere could be a little old fashioned, too.

“With the way it’s going up, I think it’s going to reach $4 before anything happens,” Alston said.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Pseudonym Feb 28, 2013

    Quote from Wolfpack_Gurl: "LOL at some of these comments... I didn't know that the president has a giant lever in his desk that controls all the gas prices! If only Obama could wave his magic wand and reduce the cost of a gallon..."

    He does have a giant lever in his desk!! He inherited it from George Bush, just like he inherited the economic problems, the war, and social issues. You take the good with the bad.

  • Pseudonym Feb 28, 2013

    Quote from rachel: "the gas in the tanks is already paid for at whatever price they paid for it- so how can the price go up several cents in a day or two-for gas that was already paid for at a lower price a day or two ago"

    I want to buy your house. But I'm not going to pay a penny more than you paid for it. Do we have a deal?

  • Wolfpack_Gurl Feb 21, 2013

    LOL at some of these comments... I didn't know that the president has a giant lever in his desk that controls all the gas prices! If only Obama could wave his magic wand and reduce the cost of a gallon...

  • MonkeyFace Feb 21, 2013

    with people having to drive further away just to go to work it kinda knocks that out oleguy

  • NCSU84 Feb 21, 2013

    Old time gas stations rule. Wish there was one near me so I could buy a soda in a tub filled with ice and water and get some "nabs."

  • djofraleigh Feb 21, 2013

    Gas in small towns is lacking competition to keep prices down. A car getting 20mpg would have to find gas 38 cents/gallon cheaper to make driving 20 miles to get it pay off with a 20 gallon fill up.

    Gas is always cheaper on the Garner side of town than in North Hills or Cary, but that doesn't mean it pays to drive across town to get it.

  • readme Feb 21, 2013

    While it might be true that chains can buy in volume and get discounts, there are other market forces at play that should be reported on. I live by I-95, and in many cases the chains by the interstate charge 30 to 50 cents more than smaller stations a few miles off the beaten path. I like this article, I'm just saying to get the complete picture, you can do a little more digging.

  • Rebelyell55 Feb 21, 2013

    The way to reduce gas prices is to stop buying it,,Less consumption will reduce the price,, You would think with all the unemployed and homeless we would be using less gas,, NOT The people not working are riding the roads,,,all day and night,,,

    February 20, 2013 7:22 p.m_____________________________________
    I agree it's the responsible thing to do, but lowering consumption does not lower gas prices. I believed this at one time, but the true is, they'll rise prices if consumption drops too low to maintain their profit margin to make it and transport it. They use to report all kinds of excuses for why prices shoot up quickly. Now they don't even bother to explain. Yes, I'm thinking there will be a drop (a small one) in another month, but will be at 4 dollars a gallon by July.

  • Nancy Feb 21, 2013

    And crude fell again, it's hovering around $94/barrel and our gas prices are still hovering closer to $4 than not.

    Our economic condition and fiscal irresponsibility and debt takes a good portion of the blame for that. Even if you deducted the small profit the stations make, the state and federal taxes and EVEN the speculators 60 cents per gallon, gas is high because our dollar is worth less than ever in history.

  • Cock a doodle doo Feb 21, 2013

    If I recall 2 years ago Paul Stam said he was going to bring down unemployment in NC and bring down gas prices. Glad to see that's being done so that he can focus on the important legislation like letting a opossum drop from a box so a bunch if yahoos in the woods can celebrate the new year.