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mixmaster 05-24-2007 11:18 PM

Now Here is an Idea....
Wis. gas station shuts pumps over prices

Motorists pulled in to Harvey Pollack's gas station Thursday, honked and gave him a thumbs-up because he wasn't selling any fuel.

The owner of Towne Market Mobil in this suburb north of Milwaukee shut down his pumps for 24 hours, hoping to start a movement aimed at persuading oil companies to lower their prices.

"Somebody out there is making money at these prices, but not me," said Pollack, 57. "So I just thought: What can I do to help the consumer?"

Yellow caution tape surrounded Pollack's six idle pumps for his protest, which drew dozens of drivers. One in a green minivan rolled down her window and shouted "Thank you!"

Maria McClory, 38, drove 10 miles out of her way to buy a diet soda from Pollack's station after seeing local television coverage of the protest.

"I just wanted to support them and thank them for making a statement," said McClory, who drives about 100 miles a day for work in her sport utility vehicle.

Other drivers were more skeptical.

Jeff Bensman, 52, pulled in expecting to gas up his Honda sedan. He said he appreciated the protest but did not think it would make much difference.

"Most other places are going to be open in the area," he said.

Jack Sobczak, general sales manager for Lakeside Oil Co., a contracted Mobil distributor that supplies Pollack's station, said Bensman was probably right: "The demand will just move down the street to the next Mobil station."

Pollack and station general manager John Schwartz agreed to experiment with a pump shutdown after an Internet-based push for a one-day gas boycott went largely unheeded last week.

"Somebody's got to be the first to try this," Schwartz said.

The Mequon station sells about 3,500 gallons of gas a day, Pollack said. He estimated the station would lose only $1,500 on the protest because some losses in gas would be made up by people buying convenience store items or more gas on Friday.

Pollack, who also owns a Milwaukee title insurance agency, said he bought the gas station in 2003 as an investment but he has not turned a profit in 30 months because gas margins are razor thin and he cannot sell enough volume to compensate.

Pollack said he has virtually no control over the price he charges for gas. The company usually makes 8 to 12 cents per gallon after suppliers' prices and credit card fees. On Wednesday the day before the protest that added up to $3.49 for a gallon of unleaded gas.

Schwartz called that "outrageous" and said even he can't fill up his SUV at that price.

"If it keeps going like this, my kids will never be able to afford to drive," said Schwartz, who has an 18-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter.


On the Net:

AAA summary of gas prices:

piemaker720 05-25-2007 07:55 AM

:clap: I applaud this man:clap: If more businesses would do this together it would send a message to the gas suppliers,

Sheba 05-25-2007 07:59 AM

Grassroots efforts are always very powerful. Nice job Mr. Pollack! Wishing for more station owners like you! Hat's off!:clap:

joepole 05-25-2007 08:43 AM

Maybe he never made any money with his gas station because he's not very smart or a very good businessman. As evidence of his this I offer the above story, in which he thinks those actions will somehow affect gas prices.

>Maria McClory, 38, drove 10 miles out of her way to buy a diet soda from Pollack's station after seeing local television coverage of the protest.

Hahahaha. She used extra gas (that she will have to replace by purchasing from a gas station) to support a "protest" that doesn't have any effect.

If he sells about 3,500 gallons a day, how is he losing $1,500 by shutting down? He makes 43 cents per gallon? That doesn't sound like a "razor-thin" margin to me.

>The company usually makes 8 to 12 cents per gallon

That's $280-420 per day for a business that requires very little work/effort. The recurring non-capital expenses are all inside the building. That's $102-153,000 a year. I think that will pay the note on a gas station in Wisconsin.

Isaac-Saxxon 05-25-2007 08:54 AM

I will have to let Joe speak for me on this one. The cause was noble but the idea sucks. He did get some free advertisement so he still may be the winner.

howela 05-25-2007 11:53 PM

What will my Uncle Sam give?
I see on the news that the government in concerned and is getting involved to make sure gasoline is affordable to us common folk:
Here's an idea,

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