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The price of oil impacts a business model

One of my favorite bike rides in the Bay Area is the Portola Valley loop – nice wide bike lanes and great scenery. Riding the "Loop" takes me past Valley Fuel, an independent gas station almost at the intersection of Portola and Alpine.

As long as I can remember, Valley Fuel was always "full serve" only – the price of gas was always higher than alternative fuel stops around the area but the staff are very friendly and the station saw good patronage.

For the last couple of weeks my daily ride had allowed me to check out the impact of rising oil prices at Valley Fuel. Slowly the price rose… $4.59, $4.69 then $4.79 for premium gasoline. I looked forward to my daily ride with renewed enthusiasm – when would Valley Fuel pass $5 a gallon as a posted price?

But last week saw the end of an era – an era where Valley Fuel was a throwback – hanging on as a "full-serve" fuel station while all their competitors had long since gone "self-serve" only.

Last week, Valley Fuel introduced "self-serve" as a purchasing option for their customers.

My guess is that "friendly good service" had a limit to its price – at $4.79 a gallon, Valley Fuel was 50-60 cents/gallon higher than the competition and, after all…

It isn't hard to pump your own gas!

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STU PHILLIPS
MENLO PARK, CALIFORNIA

Intense Brit, lived in Silicon Valley since 1984. Avid pilot, like digital photography, ham radio and a bunch of other stuff. Official Geek.

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