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The Herald News: No sign of gas boycott here

May 16, 2007
By BOB OKON Staff writer

JOLIET — Business was slow at Jay Gandhi’s Shell station Tuesday morning — the day of a grass-roots national boycott of gasoline by motorists.

Gandhi, however, thought business at the pumps was more affected by price — $3.529 a gallon at that time at the Shell at Larkin Avenue and McDonough Street — than the boycott.

“Because the price goes up, our sales are going to go down anyway,” Gandhi said.

Stations elsewhere with lower prices were busier on the boycott day, word of which had been spread over the Internet, even as gas prices reached record highs in the Chicago region, Illinois and nation.

The average price for the Chicago metropolitan area was $3.422. The statewide average was $3.322, and the national average was $3.087.

Gandhi said he’s no fan of high gas prices, since they usually lead to lower volume and less profit. But, the price he pays for gasoline supplies went up 20 cents a gallon on Monday. “I don’t have a choice,” he said.

At the pump, Jennifer Bellinghiere of Wilmington wasn’t pleased with the price of gasoline either.

“I put in $50, and it doesn’t even last a week,” Bellinghiere said. She talked about riding a bicycle more, but Bellinghiere drives to Joliet for a job. Gas prices have not affected her driving yet, she said. “I just get mad.”

The price of gasoline hasn’t hurt demand so far.

In the first quarter of this year, demand for gasoline was up 2.8 percent nationwide, said Bill Fleischli, executive vice president of the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association.

That kind of growth during the slow winter months “is unheard of,” Fleischli said. Gasoline demand usually goes up less than 1.4 percent a quarter.

AAA Chicago spokeswoman Nicole Niemi said there have been no signs of demand letting up in recent weeks either.

“Demand is higher than it was a year ago, and the refineries have just not been able to keep up,” she said.

At the Delta Sonic station, where gas was selling for $3.319 a gallon Thursday, the pumps were busy, and there was no sign of a boycott taking effect.

Taxi cab driver Charles Richardson said he knew about the plan to stay away from the gas station for a day, but, “I can’t boycott because I have to buy gas to do my job.” Richardson said he uses about 15 gallons a day, and the high gas price “takes a big chunk out of my profit.”

Mary Florez of Joliet said she forgot about the boycott and had to fill up as she drives her van around town to serve clients as a caretaker. But Florez said the price of gas has changed her driving.

“I only go to work and that’s it,” she said.

Demetrius Smith of Joliet, who limited himself to $5 worth of gas at the Shell station, said he was unaware of the boycott, but he was for it.

“We have to do something,” he said. But, he added, “What are you going to do. We got to drive.”

Bob Okon can be reached at (815) 729-6046 or [email protected]

http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/heraldnews/business/387124,4_3_JO16_GASPRICES_S1.article

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