Chimacum gas station's $2.299 sets a new pace for Peninsula
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Josh and Regina Lee, owners of the Chimacum Chevron station, are selling some of the cheapest gas in the North Olympic Peninsula, apparently matched only by Costco, the membership store in Sequim. -- Photo by Erik Hidle/Peninsula Daily News

By Erik Hidle
Peninsula Daily News

Josh Lee knows he has the cheapest gasoline in Chimacum.

He also said he has the lowest price for a gallon of regular unleaded on the North Olympic Peninsula, although a check of washingtongasprices.com found that his price isn't unmatched.

Both Lee's station, the Chimacum Chevron at the corner of state Highway 19 Center Road, and Sequim's Costco, at 955 W. Washington St. -- which requires an annual membership fee -- were offering regular unleaded gasoline for $2.299 per gallon on Friday and Saturday.

The price is in contention for the lowest in the state, AAA spokeswoman Janet Ray said, although washingtongasprices.com finds regular unleaded going for $1.999 in Moses Lake, Everson, Deming and Bellingham.

Even if they don't have the lowest price in the state, the stations' prices are rock bottom for the Peninsula, according to AAA and postings of gas prices online.

That makes his station popular, Lee said.

"I have met people who drive here from Bremerton, Silverdale and Sequim," Lee said.

"We have a policy here: Always make the customer happy."

The station cuts its margin down as low as it can and depends on high volume to make up the difference.

That plan seems to be working.

Between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Friday there wasn't an empty bay to be seen.

"We have gas delivered here twice a day," Lee said.

"We sell gas really, really fast here.

"Chevron has told us we are the number one selling station in the state."

Sequim Costco

The price at the Sequim Costco is developed by corporate headquarters, said Brian Wright, general manager, on Saturday.

"Corporate makes the price, and then we post it," he said.

The price is developed through a formula that takes into account gasoline prices within five miles of the store, the cost of delivery and other factors, he said.

"We're going to try to send what we can to the members" in terms of savings, Wright said.

Each member of the warehouse membership club pays an annual fee of either $50 or $100, the latter offering money back on purchases.

"We try to go based on what we get it for, without making too much money," Wright said.

And the price of gasoline "is all based on supply and demand."

Low prices

Gasoline prices have been plummeting across the state, Ray said.

"A month ago, [the average] was at $3.55 a gallon and in four weeks time, it has gone down more than a dollar.

"Statewide, the average is $2.45 now, and I see averages as high as the Seattle area at $2.48, with Spokane at $2.33," she said on Friday.

The average dipped to $2.42 on Saturday.

Ray said the state recorded its highest price this year at $4.35 -- a record on July 6.

"We are almost two dollars less than we were at that point in the summer," she said.

According to prices posted on motortrend.com, the average price of gas in Jefferson County on Friday was $2.47 a gallon.

In Clallam County, the average was $2.55 a gallon.

Lee said he knows people are driving from out-of-county to grab cheap gas, and he's happy to bring visitors into Jefferson County.

"In the summertime, we were seeing a lot of people coming from all over," Lee said.

Customers at the station said they often made trips out of their way to save a bit on gas.

'Word has spread'

"As you can see, the word has spread," said Thelma Keefe of Port Ludlow.

"This is the place to come to get gas, and I have been telling my friends."

Sixteen-year-old Keegan Butterfield, who commutes from Quilcene to Chimacum High School every week day, said he buys gasoline only at the Chimacum station.

"It's awesome," Butterfield said.

"It's the lowest I have ever seen gas in my entire driving career."

Lee said that loyal customers are the key to his low prices.

"The main thing is the customer," he said.

"We want to keep them coming again and again and know they will buy from us."

________

Reporter Erik Hidle can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at erik.hidle@peninsuladailynews.com

Last modified: November 09. 2008 4:50AM
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