It’s a well-known headache that gas prices in Truckee are the highest in the region. So why has a small, privately owned station at the Truckee River RV Park on Hirschdale Road been able to offer such low prices? They are currently selling unleaded gas for $3.29 a gallon, but in December prices were as low as $2.99. We spoke with the owner to get the scoop.
It’s something we’ve been thinking about doing for a while, offering super low gas prices to try to get more people to come. It’s like free advertising for the other aspects of our business and it’s really worked: Our deli has gotten a lot more busy; we have a great beer selection. We’ve owned this place for six and a half years and there’s still people coming in from Glenshire who said they didn’t know we were here. We’ve always been 40 or 50 cents cheaper than town, but that wasn’t enough to really get people’s attention, so we thought, what the heck, let’s just try it and see what happens. And it’s working. We’re not making as much on the gas, obviously, but all the other aspects of the business are picking up, and it’s just been free advertising.
The gas stations in Truckee are out of control. They’re absolutely ridiculous, acting like they’re in the middle of nowhere and that people don’t have an option. … We are finally in a position, since we have bought the place and are recovering from buying the place … to be able to give it a try. We [first lowered the prices] at the beginning of December, just kind of a thank you because we just got voted the best RV park in Truckee … And an early Christmas present [for our customers].
It seemed like the time to try it because we’d been thinking about doing it for a year. We’re staying as low as we can. When we first [lowered prices further], we were selling a ton of gas and we even ran out a couple of times because we couldn’t keep up. We thought, if we can sell this much gas then we can stay at this price. But it has dropped a little bit and we’re trying as hard as we can to maintain the price. If we don’t start selling a little more soon, we might have to bump it up a little bit because we have a certain amount we have to make.
We’re still selling a lot more than we ever have for this time of year. At first … people were coming in and literally buying gas and just driving away, and it was kind of a bummer. Like, come on! The idea is to get you to come in. But now that we’re becoming people’s regular gas station, they’re definitely coming in more and they’re buying their smokes and their coffee and their Red Bulls and their breakfast burritos, so it’s working now over time.
It’s been fun. Everyone’s so appreciative. People are opening the door and just yelling, “Thanks!” People are emailing, telling us how much time they saved, money they saved, and how it was so great to have it over Christmas because they were able to do better things with that money. So it’s a feel-good thing, too. It makes us feel really good to make people happy and give back to the community.
I like to call us the People’s Gas Station. The people of Truckee come here and the tourists go elsewhere. Our supplier is really happy and we’re really happy. Now we sell a lot more gallons … we make a lot less per gallon, but it washes out. People are coming in and we’re making money in other aspects, and everyone’s super happy. If we can keep the volume up, we will keep the price down. If we can’t keep the volume up, then we’ll have to raise it back up.
~ Tammy Inis, owner, Truckee River RV Park gas station