Turner the place to go for cheap gas

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Fuel prices have dropped an average of 7.3 cents per gallon at Maine gas stations in the last week, according to consumer website Mainegasprices.com, and gas stations in Turner are currently boasting some of the lowest prices in the state.

B&A Variety in Turner was charging $3.59 a gallon for regular gas Monday afternoon, the lowest price in the state, according to Mainegasprices.com, which relies on consumers to visit the site and post the gas prices they pay.

BJ’s Wholesale Club in Auburn also posted prices of $3.59 Monday afternoon, dropping 30 cents from the day before, but only members of the bulk retailer get that rate; nonmembers pay 20 cents more per gallon.

Murray’s Mega Mart, also in Turner, advertised $3.63 a gallon for gasoline Monday, as did several other Turner gas stations, according to the website.

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“Turner is very competitive right now, but normally it’s more competitive in Auburn and Lewiston,” Jason Bryant, whose family owns B&A Variety, said. “You have to react to changes in the market, whether you want to or not.”

In Auburn Monday, gas prices remained closer to $4, including $3.95 a gallon at the Crossroads Market Mobil on Washington Street, and $3.93 at the Citgo and Irving stations at the intersection of Court Street and Minot Avenue.

Bryant explained that his company’s recent wholesale acquisitions have allowed them to lower prices at the pump. “We have been lucky in our purchases,” Bryant said. “Basically, when we’re able to buy it at a competitive price, we like to pass it along to customers.”

“It’s better for prices to be lower,” Bryant said, because the company pays lower fees on credit and debit card purchases, and because customers are more comfortable spending money on gas. Other than commuting to work, driving is a nonessential expense, he said, and “if people don’t have money, they won’t spend it.”

Bryant said he couldn’t be sure why fuel prices in Auburn continued to stay above the state average, reported as $3.89 a gallon by Mainegasprices.com. But he explained that gas prices are among the most volatile of any commodity: wholesale prices “can change a dozen times a day,” he said.

Sometimes, a station will purchase a load of gas only to see the market price drop immediately afterward, forcing them to either keep their prices high while other stations lower theirs, or take a loss, he said. “That’s happened to us before.”

For now, Maine prices are slightly above the national average of $3.83 a gallon, according to Mainegasprices.com. Declining prices seem to be the trend, and some have predicted that fuel might go as low as $3.50 a gallon by summer, but Bryant is skeptical. “I don’t know where the prices will go,” he said. “I would love to see prices go down.”

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