New station keeps prices down

Fred Meyer gas station creates price competition

Posted: Tuesday, September 05, 2000

Fred Meyer store director Terry Rahlfs said he plans to meet or beat the lowest fuel prices in town with the new gas station Fred Meyer opened Wednesday at its Soldotna store.

He has a crew watching other stations.

"We've been checking prices twice a day," he said. "When somebody new comes into the market, there's always going to be kind of a jostling in price."

Friday prices at Fred Meyer were $1.65 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline and $1.50 for diesel. It is a self-service station, Rahlfs said, but Wednesday, Fred Meyer workers washed customers' windshields.

Williams Express and two Tesoro stations on the Sterling Highway in Soldotna posted prices Friday of $1.70 per gallon for regular gasoline and $1.60 per gallon for diesel. South Central Tesoro on the Kenai Spur Highway in Soldotna posted prices of $1.68 per gallon for regular and $1.60 for diesel. Big John's Tesoro on the Sterling Highway just east of Soldotna posted prices of $1.66 for regular gasoline and $1.50 for diesel.

"We're working to get customers to come in and try our station," Rahlfs said. "What I think they'll like is the convenience of being able to come buy their gas when they do all their shopping. Our strategy is to be at the lowest price in town."

Rahlfs declined to say where Fred Meyer buys its fuel. In July, when the new station was under construction, Rob Boley, vice president for public relations at the Oregon-based chain, said Williams Alaska Petroleum will supply fuel to the new Fred Meyer stations in Alaska.

Fred Meyer will staff its Soldotna station during the same hours its store is open -- 5 a.m. to midnight for now, and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. after winter hours begin Sunday.

After hours, customers still will be able to operate the pumps using credit cards. The station has eight pumps with 16 fueling spots and high roofs to accommodate recreational vehicles.

Rahlfs said he hired a crew of 10 to operate the station. Depending on volume, two to six people will be on duty to run it and help customers operate the pumps, which are slightly different from those at other stations.

"What we call this is our 'soft opening,' without advertising," he said. "We're training our clerks how to operate the pumps and run the register."

The four-day grand opening starts Wednesday at 7 a.m. Fred Meyer will offer customers coffee and cake and the chance to meet Fred Bear, the company mascot.

Statewide Petroleum Service was builder of the Soldotna station, Boley said last month, though he would not disclose the construction cost.

Soldotna city officials estimated the value of the new Soldotna station at about $539,000, said Anna Johnson, administrative assistant to the planning and zoning department.

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