$4 gas the price of doing business for independent station owner

David Albers/Staff 
 — Gas prices push into the 4-dollar range at the Chevron gas station at 8901 U.S. 41 North on Wednesday, March 21, 2012, in North Naples.

Photo by DAVID ALBERS, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo

David Albers/Staff — Gas prices push into the 4-dollar range at the Chevron gas station at 8901 U.S. 41 North on Wednesday, March 21, 2012, in North Naples.

Gas station owner Dave Young is sorry you have to pay $4.05 a gallon at his pumps on U.S. 41 — but not that sorry.

"Everybody hates it being $4 a gallon," he said. But after paying the middle man, "usually we have to, to make up the difference.

Even as a consumer, convenience has tended to trump price as a deciding factor for Young.

"If you save 10 cents a gallon, for a 20-gallon fill up, that's like $2. That's cheaper than a cup of coffee," he said. "If you spent that much time looking at your IRA "

As an independent franchise dealer of Chevron, Young says he pays more for his gas because he gets it from a distributor instead of straight from the refinery. Customers then pay a few cents per gallon on top of that at Young's Pavilion Chevron, near the intersection with Vanderbilt Beach Road.

Though other local stations were selling gas as low as $3.86 per gallon Wednesday, drivers continued to pull up to the pumps at Young's store for fill ups.

"Hey Dave," a man in a pool service truck said to the owner.

"Hey Keith," Young said back.

Having owned the station since 1989, Young gets his share of regulars, and on occasion, a visit from Judge Judy Sheindlin, who owns a home in Naples. He sold his truck to buy the business and has operated independently ever since.

Though his gas prices tend to be higher than average, he says business has been good. He likes to think his free-air-for-your-tires policy and longtime employees keep people coming back, though he admits there's "not a lot of competition in the area."

On Wednesday afternoon, as it started to downpour, Michael Mielke pulled into the station after his tank hit empty. On spring break this week from Columbus, Ohio, where gas was "a lot cheaper," Mielke said it was too late to consider the $4.05 price tag.

"I didn't really have a choice," he said. "I'm the kind that gets the least amount as possible and tries to get by."

Although concerned about the rising cost of a gallon, the 21-year-old hasn't made plans to cut back on traveling.

"We still want to go places and do things," he said. "You got to do what you got to do."

And a gallon of gas at $4.05 sounded like a downright bargain to Joe Armstrong, a seasonal resident from Winchester, Mass., whose car takes premium gas at $4.29 a gallon.

"There's no need to remind me," Armstrong said. "Any time you break $70, it gets your attention. And it just did."

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