December 10, 2005
Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column ready to add fuel to the already simmering debate over gas prices here in the High Country.You may remember a recent item that went like this:”We must be getting close to the holidays. We have another Scum Alert! Scum Alert! This time, it goes out from a caller to all the gas stations that feel it’s their right to be 50 cents more expensive than Denver.”I refuse to buy anything at the gas stations,” the caller said, “because of the excessive prices.”Well, our crack research team here at the Corporate Suites dug up this anonymous, but relevant, response.”OK, so you want an explanation? Please let me enumerate a few of the simple concepts of economics that go into convenience stores pricing throughout the High Country.”High cost of living! I don’t know if you have noticed, but everything costs 60 percent to 70 percent more including housing, groceries, furnishings, etc. “2. Necessity of higher wages for employees. If the convenience store could hire their employees at Denver wages (averaging $7.25/hour) it would be more logical to set prices at Denver standards. But, there is not a single person living here, paying $1,000 to $1,900/month for a one- or two-bedroom apartment (while Denver’s average is around $450 to $900/month), willing to work for those wages. Right now the median income for the average family in Summit County is around $50,000/year. And, have you noticed the price for meat? It is sometimes 130 percent of Denver prices – which, by the way is about 60 percent higher than many other large metropolises such as Oklahoma City. “3. Cost of merchandise is much higher than Denver by a significant amount – averaging 15 percent to 30 percent more in most cases. “4. Cost of maintenance is much more … many times due to the stringent, unrealistic and illogical requirements of the communities we live in. There is the added cost of snow removal during the six to seven months of snow which is more than 400 percent more than what Denver averages per year. There are also additional taxes paid so we can have a “free bus transportation system.” And don’t forget the higher cost of insurance required for a convenience store in our area compared to metro stores. “5. The average customer count for convenience stores for a yearly average is less than the average for Denver stores. In the metropolis the population is higher, therefore the customer traffic is more. Here in Summit County, the seasonal aspect has to be taken into consideration for profitability, or you are in serious trouble. “6. There are other factors that need to be taken into account as well, but these should give you and your readers insight into the ‘low fuel prices’ found here in Summit County.”Perhaps we logically should be $.60 to $.75 higher than Denver in order to cover cost and make a decent profit so we can live here also!”Thanks for letting me get this out.”- A Local OperatorOkay, just one question … when gas was at an all-time high earlier this year, prices here were almost exactly the same as they were in Denver. Where were all those High Country-specific added costs then? And when prices began falling in the Denver area, it took months for them to fall at stations here. Hmmmmm …..***Anyway, we’re sure this thought-provoking edition of Summit Up will engender even more critical responses, so bring it on!We out, with the promise of the usual menu of jokes and witticisms in the next edition.