McKibbin’s Scribblin’s: Another side to City Market’s low gas prices
While I enjoyed filling up my car at lower gas prices, and saving 20 cents a gallon on top of that, at the new City Market fuel station, I have to say I feel a little guilty now.
I’ve been very lucky over most of the last dozen or so years. Since I live less than a mile from where I’ve worked, I’ve been able to walk to work many days. That’s saved me mucho dinero on gas. So I’m different than a lot of Rifle folks, who have made the daily round-trip commute to Glenwood Springs, Aspen or maybe Eagle or Gypsum for who knows how long. That will drain a gas tank pretty fast.
So I can understand why most people are just tickled pink they can thumb their noses at their old local gas station or convenience store.
But there are maybe 45 to 50 people – I’m sure most have families – who are now worrying about their future. And it’s because everyone is saving money at the pump.
Kirk Swallow is pretty ticked off. He said he almost didn’t call me back when I left a message asking him to call me so we could talk about how the City Market station has and could affect his business.
Swallow Oil Co. has been a Rifle small business since 1951. They employ 45 to 50 people and supply gas to all the stations in Rifle and other communities. Except City Market, of course. Swallow wasn’t asked to bid to supply the new City Market station.
And since the huge Kroger Corp. owns City Market, it can afford to sell gas at such low prices because they sell millions of dollars in groceries and other goods across their service area each day. Add to that the extra savings City Market customers get on their Value Card every time they buy food in the store and it makes for a pretty unlevel playing field for Swallow Oil.
So Kirk Swallow isn’t sure how long he can hold out and wonders why people pay so much attention to gas prices but don’t blink an eye when they buy something else in Rifle that costs much more than it does in say, Grand Junction.
I’ve often wondered why motorists would drive far out of their way to save a few pennies on a fill up that cost them maybe $35. They use more gas than the money they save. Now, if you’re filling a huge tank on a semi or something like that, maybe I could see it. But I’ve known folks who drive pretty economical cars travel for an hour or more to save a little dough at the pump.
Must be something I’m missing. As Swallow said, maybe it’s a case of doing what you can to survive, money-wise. Times being what they are and all.
At any rate, I’m going to make a habit of filling up at a Swallow station every once in a while. You might say I’m doing it out of guilt and you may be right. And it might not do much good for the company’s bottom line, given how infrequently I drive.
But it’s more a case of trying to help a longtime local business, one who’s been active in the community in terms of giving back, donating and the like, at a time when it needs some help. And maybe helping those 45 to 50 people and families keep money coming in at a time when the economy stinks.
I’m also glad those in Rifle who have complained for years while they paid high gas prices here have some relief. And I’ll continue to take advantage of those low prices from time to time as well.
Maybe if we all shared our wealth, so to speak, everyone might come out a winner.
Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.
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Rifle City Council will have five seats open this year come election season, the city announced Tuesday.