Monday, October 6, 2008

The Best Deal Around.... For Miles!

Friday evening I found myself at the Dixfield House of Pizza enjoying a sandwich and reading the Lewiston Sun Journal. I was tired of reading about the countries current financial disaster, so I flipped to the local section hoping to read about anything but the economy. While reading the back page I came across the following article:

, Friday, October 3, 2008

BURNHAM - It's mid-afternoon Wednesday and Mike Hall of Burnham has just finished filling up his truck with regular unleaded gasoline at Patterson's Store.

A few minutes ago the price at the store's single pump was $3.39 a gallon - among the top 10 cheapest in the state. Now, just before he filled up, the price was lowered another 12 cents, to $3.27. According to the Web site, Patterson's had the second cheapest gas price in Maine at that point. The average price in Maine that day was $3.52, according to the Web site.

"I think it's great," Hall said. "I fill up my wife's car here too. It's convenient. I definitely try to fill up here even though I work in Fairfield."

In fact, Patterson's has consistently been among the low-price leaders in Maine. But for Brian Kenney, owner of the store, he never pays much attention to how his prices stack up against others.

He just wants to treat his core customers right. Those are mostly Burnham residents, who he welcomes by name as they open the store door.

"It's not something I base my price on - to be the cheapest," Kenney said. "I have a margin I work on."

Kenney declined to discuss any specific numbers, but said he makes enough off his single pump station (one pump is gasoline, another is diesel) to keep prices at a low price he's comfortable with. He has a 4,000-gallon tank and averages 10,000 gallons of fuel during three drop-offs a week.

"That's pretty good for a little store," Kenney said. "My customers know I normally am one of the cheapest around. My locals are the ones that motivate me" to have good prices.

The store, at 4 Pond Road off North Horseback Road, is open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. It's been in Kenney's family since 1933, though the store had been around in one form or another for about 200 years, he said. His mother owns the historic building while he owns the store business.

"The store has quite a bit of history to it and I'd like to keep it in the family," Kenney said.

Dion Rossignol, Kenney's niece, manages the store during the first half of the day and has seen long lines of cars at the gas pump. Most days the store will attract 100 or more cars at the single pump, but some days it's been more than 200.

"It brings people here," she said, and she sees many regular customers from nearby towns such as Unity and Clinton. "It's hard to get (fuel) deliveries some days" because of the line of cars.

Based on what he's seen, Kenney thinks that gas prices will continue to drop.

"Hopefully it stabilizes around the $3 mark," he said. "The ups and downs of this business is crazy.""

Today I went and visited my Mom, who just happens to live less than three miles from Patterson's General Store. Since I was so close I decided that I just had to stop by to fill up on the inexpensive gas. Now Patterson's is a typical rural Maine convenience store, complete with deviled eggs on the counter and a bulletin board where people can advertise items for sale or services to be offered. I filled up my tank, at $3.10/gallon, and went inside to introduce myself. Oh yeah, that's another perk of rural Maine convenience stores, they know everyone in town. The woman at the counter was happy to hear that I had read the newspaper article and came in because of it. I informed her that I write a blog and wanted to stop by to get the "scoop" on what I had read about in the newspaper so that I could report to my fellow readers. She was also glad to meet me since she knew both my Mother and my Step Father, and to hear that I was going to write more about the little store.There's nothing like rural Maine!

Enjoy ~SJ

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