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Getting a grasp on gas: Store owners dealing with profit losses
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Under normal circumstances, it would take three days for the Chevron Food Mart at 1050 McEver Road to sell 1,200 gallons of gasoline.

But these are not normal circumstances.

This week, customers pumped that same amount of gas from the store’s tanks in seven hours, said Duvy Patel, a son of the store’s owners.

"I did not expect that in my dreams," Patel said. "That was outrageous."

Once he had no gas left to give them, the cars stopped coming.

"I am pretty much a sitting duck (without gas to sell)," Patel said.

Nearly 24 hours after the Environmental Protection Agency issued a temporary waiver for the Georgia-specific requirements on sulfur content in fuel, many area gas stations still had bags over their pumps and empty parking lots Wednesday evening.

Because of the area’s shortages, the metro-Atlanta region, Gainesville included, has been listed as an area of concern in an update AAA officials gave to their division managers about the current fuel situation, said Randy Bly, director of community relations for AAA.

Bly and other industry officials expect that Gainesville motorists should start to see improvements in the area’s fuel supply by this weekend.

Normal circumstances may not return for a week, though, he said.

"There’s a ways to go until that fuel supply balances out," Bly said. "I’m afraid we won’t even see it back to ... normal until sometime next week."

Until then, store owners say they are receiving a fraction of their normal gasoline deliveries and fuzzy information about when the next delivery will come.

"They run out much quicker and stay out much longer," Bly said.

When they do run out, convenience store owners are not able to compete with those stores that have gas, because consumers are not going to make two stops to buy gasoline and last-minute necessities, said Jim Tudor, president of the Georgia Association of Convenience Store Owners.

With no control over the current fuel
situation, store owners have no choice but to wait for more gas and watch their profit margins shrink.

"Until the supply issue resolves itself, there’s not a whole lot that one can do," Tudor said. "It is what it is right now."

While local government and school officials say the area’s fuel shortage has yet to pose a problem for them, Bly said that the situation has caused AAA to change the way it provides emergency gas assistance to members who become stranded on the road after their cars run out of gas.

With fuel in shorter supply, AAA has stopped automatically taking gas to people who have run out, Bly said.

"When people do run out of gas, and it’s truly an accidental thing, we will tow them back to their home or back to a gas station," Bly said.

If there is gas available, AAA will try to deliver it to stranded members, but AAA is also subject to the effects of fuel scarcity, Bly said.

"Unfortunately, we can only get so much fuel, too, and we have to allocate that to run emergency road service trucks," Bly said. "This situation is affecting all types of scenarios."

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