Friday, January 29, 1999

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Owner Frank Young at K&Y Chevron.

Gas war! The
price is right

Competing stations downtown
thrill drivers for 2 hours—and
create a traffic nightmare

By Rob Perez


William Quemado drove more than 15 miles this morning to buy 83-cents-a-gallon gas from a Chevron station holding a promotion.

Instead, the Ewa Beach resident ended up filling his Honda Accord at another station. Thanks to a mini-price war between the two businesses, Quemado got an even better price: 79.9 cents a gallon.

For a couple hours this morning, Honolulu motorists willing to wait in line at either station bought gas at prices not seen in Hawaii since the late 1970s.

K&Y Chevron owner Frank Young, as he had been planning for weeks, dropped his unleaded price from $1.469 to 83 cents at 7 a.m. It was part of a promotion calling attention to Hawaii's highest-in-the-nation gas prices.

About 30 minutes later, Lex Brodie's Tire Co., which runs a station a few blocks from Young's Queen Street site, dropped its price from $1.439 to 79.9 cents. The station touted its sale by moving a price sign to the corner of South and Queen streets, in full view of many motorists in line at K&Y.

"We just responded to the competition," said John Mayo, Lex Brodie's president.

The result was a traffic nightmare. Some drivers reported waiting nearly 45 minutes to fill up at K&Y.

But once they reached the pumps, motorists said they were thrilled with the bargains -- and wondered aloud why Hawaii prices normally are 40 to 65 cents a gallon more than on the mainland.

"This is awesome," said Andy Wood as he filled his tank at Lex Brodie's. "It almost makes it feel like you're on the mainland."

By driving from Ewa Beach, Quemado saved nearly $9 on his fill-up. He was so pleased, he tipped the gas attendant $1.40.

"Prices should be like this all the time," said Daniel Viernes, Quemado's buddy.

By the time Young stopped his 83-cent special around 9:15 a.m., he had sold 2,600 gallons, about 160 percent of his normal volume for that period. Lex Brodie's reverted to its normal pricing around the same time.

Young was able to cut his prices below cost with the help of several corporate sponsors. Mayo said his company absorbed its costs.

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