Small-town NC gas stations struggle to offer competitive prices

Posted February 20, 2013 4:08 p.m. EST

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.

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.