, 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 mainegasprices.com, 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.""