FIRESTONE, Colo. — The White House is proudly touting that Colorado is one in a dozen states now selling gas for under $4 a gallon – while that claim is true, it’s also deceptive.
There are only a handful of stations in the entire state selling gas that cheap. Most of them are on a single exit off I-25 in northern Colorado.
It’s easy to drive by Exit 240 in Firestone and not even notice the small town. But there’s a war brewing here. A price war that no one else in the state is seeing. It’s got people lining up and waiting to cash in.
The bright lights of the Phillips 66 sign in Firestone advertise something you won’t find anywhere else – gas for $3.43 a gallon. The state average is $4.78 according to AAA.
Across the street it’s similar. QuikTrip wants you to know they’re selling it for $3.53. Circle K has the same deal. Big spenders can cruise on over to 7-Eleven and splurge for $3.87 a gallon.
But why Firestone of all places? Why is Firestone so special it gets gas for more than a dollar cheaper than the state average? Why is gas so cheap only in this single intersection of a small northern Colorado town?
"Motorists are always going to be price motivated. They’re always going to stop where they see the cheapest gas," said Skyler McKinley with AAA. "There’s not that much cheaper gas going to Firestone for some reason. It’s probably business owners making economic decisions to entice business. To some extent, it’s working really well. We’re talking about it."
Our clue lies in the red and white flags flying above the QuikTrip parking lot. If they look pretty new, it’s because they are. The gas station opened a month ago. The increased competition is forcing everyone to compete. When one goes low, the others go lower.
"If one service station is selling it 10 cents cheaper than you and they’re half a block away, folks are going to flock to that service station," said McKinley.
A good old-fashioned price war off the side of the highway.
"Yes sir, a gas war," said Nav Singh who owns the Phillips 66 in Firestone.
He wanted us to watch as he lowered his gas prices even lower. He said he's probably losing money on gas at this point, but he wants the customers.
"Everyone is trying to get a penny, we're trying to get a penny under them," said Singh. "They're getting a penny underneath us, It's all going like that."
Gas stations can set their own prices, though it usually is based on how much the wholesale distributor is charging. Some competing gas stations can buy from the same distributor which can also drive down prices in localized areas.
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