The COVID-19 emergency has affected everyone, even Big Bear Valley’s gasoline owners. As prices started dropping the past couple of weeks in California, Big Bear’s gasoline demand was also dropping because of a lack of tourists.
For Nick El Habre, owner of Nick’s Auto Care and Valero in Big Bear Lake, he was stuck with a shipment of gasoline purchased at a higher price. He said he still has gasoline in the tanks that was purchased at the higher price, but finally has room in the tanks for gasoline purchased at the lower wholesale price. El Habre expected a new shipment of gasoline Friday, April 10, that will allow him to drastically lower the price at his pumps.
“(April 10) was decision day for me,” El Habre said. He plans to lower the price of regular unleaded to $2.95 a gallon. He said he will be taking a loss, but felt it was time to make the change.
The Big Bear Arco station began the day April 10 as the lowest price in Big Bear with $2.99 a gallon for regular unleaded. Sierra Hardi, an employee at Arco speaking on behalf of the store manager, said the corporate office dictates their price at the pump. Business has been good, Hardi said.
Other stations have responded to the lower cost of gasoline by lowering prices in recent days. Circle K and Best Gas in Big Bear City were selling regular unleaded for $3.03 a gallon on April 9. Moonridge Fuel also stands at $3.03. The 76 Station price for regular unleaded is $3.09 a gallon while the 7/Eleven is at $3.15 a gallon.
The highest price in the Valley is at Chevron in Big Bear Lake, which lowered its price for regular unleaded from $3.59 to $3.39 a gallon on April 9.
On April 10, GasBuddy, the online gasoline tech company, reported the lowest price for regular unleaded in the state at $1.85 a gallon in Farmersville. The lowest price in San Bernardino County is $2.19 a gallon at two stations in Twentynine Palms and the Costco in Fontana. The average price for regular unleaded in San Bernardino County is $2.836, down 51.8 cents from last month and $1.04 from 2019.
Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said gasoline prices are based on the price paid by the stations for the product. DeHaan said tourist areas usually have higher prices, especially if there isn’t a lot of competition. He said competition drives the market price, not transportation costs. “Transportation costs average only a penny or two a gallon,” DeHaan said.
His advice to consumers is to shop for the lowest price. “It’s a good habit to get into,” DeHaan said. “You could save a few hundred dollars a year, which comes in handy right now.”
El Habre said he always strives to offer the lowest price in Big Bear. “I appreciate all my customers,” El Habre said. “I get a lot of business from tourists, but I care about my local customers.”