MASSENA - The commute from Waddington to Massena is a relatively easy drive in good weather, but motorists are finding it a lot cheaper to fill their tanks before leaving the fishing capital of the county on a trip to the home of Alcoa, the St. Lawrence Seaway locks and the New York Power Power Authority as well as the St. Lawrence Centre mall.
As of Thursday morning, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Waddington was well below $4 per gallon, while service stations in Massena remained above the $4 threshold.
At Mountain Mart on South Main Street and both A Plus locations in Massena the price of a gallon of regular unleaded fuel was $4.04 per gallon. At Stewarts on state Route 56, just outside the village the price stood at $4.07 per gallon.
Less than 20 miles down the road in Waddington, Kunoco IGA and Sharlows Quick Stop were selling their gas for well below $4 per gallon, with a gallon of regular unleaded costing $3.90 per gallon at the IGA and either $3.85 or $3.89 per gallon at Sharlows, depending on whether your purchase is paid for with cash or a debit/credit card.
Edwin Sharlow has owned and operated Sharlows for 48 years. He said hes not sure why the price of gas is so much higher in other communities.
I dont control anyone but myself, he said. I try to keep the prices reasonable for my customers, and Ive done that for 48 years.
While he doesnt know for sure why the price is higher at other stations, he said he does have a few theories.
You dont see me driving a Cadillac. Plus I live right next door, so I can walk to work, he said.
Mr. Sharlow said low overhead helps him keep his prices down.
If you have 20 employees, thats 20 checks you have to write every Friday. If you only have five employees, than youre only writing five checks, he said.
He also said hes proud to say he owns everything at his business from the credit card machines to the building and from the gas pumps to the fuel tanks.
Everything is mine, he said. It might not be the best, but it is mine. The only things I dont own is the lottery machine and if I could buy that I would.
A couple years ago, Mr. Sharlow said he was approached by a fuel company, who offered him new pumps and said they would pave his parking lot, in exchange for him signing a five-year contract with them.
I looked at the fine print, and they were going to raise my prices, he said. If they were going to raise the price to me than I would of had to raise the price to my customers and I wasnt going to do that.
While Mr. Sharlow offers his gas for a much lower price than those doing business in Massena or other communities around the region, he said the price he pays per gallon is similar to what other stations pay.
We all pay practically the same prices, he said.
Waddington isnt the only community in the county, where prices have dropped below $4 per gallon.
Nice N Easy (in Ogdensburg) has good prices, but Im not going to let them beat me out. Im going to have as good or better prices than anybody in the county, he said. If you have twice the volume you can operate on half the profit.
And according to the prices on display at the Nice N Easy on Ford Street in Ogdensburg, Mr. Sharlows prices are right in line, as they had an identical cash price of $3.85 per gallon of regular unleaded and their debit/credit price was actually one cent higher, coming in at $3.90 per gallon.
Missy Howard manages Stewarts in Louisville and while she said she wasnt exactly sure when customers in the greater Massena area will see their gas drop below $4 per gallon she said it should be sometime soon.
I can tell you the price of gas is going down, but right now there is nothing forcing us to go cheaper, she said, referring to how their prices were in line with other gas stations in Massena.
As for the price in other communities, Ms. Howard said, Ogdensburg has always been about 10 cents cheaper.Patrick J. DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, said its typical for the price of gas to drop quicker in some communities than others.
Until that one station drops their prices everybody else is just holding steady waiting for that to happen, he said. Nobody wants to be the first station to drop their prices, because they know it will hurt all of them. Obviously, as long as the price stays up they are making more money.
Local managers for the Kunoco IGA, Mountain Mart and A Plus each deferred comment to their corporate offices, who did not return phone calls placed Thursday.