It seems to be a common feeling among many gas consumers that the gas vendors are less than candid with us when explaining why gas prices go up or down. Fred Meyer might be a good example. As I write, the gas price for regular at north Fred Meyer is $3.32 per gallon, and at south Freddies it is $3.34. Prices are consistently 2 to 5 cents cheaper at the north pumps than at the south. Have Freddie's market advisers decided that because the economic strata are higher in south Medford, those folks need to pay more? Or have they decided to take less profit at the north pumps to help out less-affluent people who live and shop in north Medford? What can they tell us?
—Don D., Jacksonville
Well, Don, Fred Meyer officials were actually pretty candid when they told us the reason for lowering the gas price at one store's station over another — competition.
"Fuel is a pretty variable and fluid industry," said Melinda Merrill, director of public affairs at Fred Meyer. "It's also incredibly competitive."
Merrill said that the difference in price between the Fred Meyer gas station in the northern part of Medford on Crater Lake Highway and the station in the southern part on Center Drive isn't about who lives near the stations, it's about how much nearby stations are charging for their fuel.
"The Crater Lake Highway station is a much higher-volume station, and it's located near some low-priced competitors — which compels a business to price accordingly," Merrill said.
On Monday, a gallon of regular gas at Fred Meyer on Crater Lake Highway was $3.26, while gas at Freddies on Center Drive was 7 cents more, $3.33.
Near the Crater Lake Highway station, the 76 at the Whitham Truck Stop on Biddle Road was charging $3.34 and the Shell station on Crater Lake Highway near the Rogue Valley Mall was charging $3.35.
Meanwhile, stations closer to the Fred Meyer on Center Drive charged slightly higher.
The Shell closest to the store on the corner of East Barnett Road and East Stewart Avenue was charging $3.49 Monday, while the Chevron station across the street also charged $3.49.
This means that compared to nearby competitors, Fred Meyer stations were about 8 to14 cents cheaper than the competition in close proximity.
According to gas price comparison website Gas Buddy, the only stations to list cheaper gas than Fred Meyer on Monday were Safeway on Stevens Street and Costco on Crater Lake Highway, with a gallon of regular for $3.23 at either station, and USA Gasoline on North Ross Lane, where a gallon was going for $3.25.
And now for the rest of the story:
We stand corrected here at Since You Asked HQ, and we give credit where credit's due. Thanks to further digging by our own history sleuth Bill Miller into a question posed in the Since You Asked column that ran Saturday, we now know that a 1912 libel charge against Ashland Tidings publisher Bert R. Greer, actually did make it to trial.
The front page story in the Mail Tribune on April 3, 1913, noted that the case went to trial, and after a jury deliberated for seven hours, Greer was acquitted.
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