The BP station at the new Royal Seven has only been open for a month and it’s already causing a stir bringing down gas prices up and down North Lee Street and at all interstate exits in Forsyth.
The manager of the station across the street from the El Tejado Restaurant, Rushi Patel, told the Reporter that whatever prices are at other stations, he pledges to make his prices at least 10 cents lower per gallon. Patel said that’s his company’s policy and he will continue to do so no matter what. He said that is their strategy for bringing people to the facility which also includes Papa John’s, Moe’s Grill and a Huddle House. On Saturday, Sept. 19, a gallon of regular fuel was $1.79 at his station. Stations at the next southbound exit on Tift College Drive were advertising a gallon of regular at $1.89. On Hwy. 18, prices were at $1.99. Rushi said they don’t advertise, and news of their lower prices was quickly spread on Facebook and by word-of-mouth.
Rushi said the hardest part of his business was attracting and keeping good employees and they start trainees at higher than the minimum wage and give regular raises as they show efficiency in their jobs and have good attitudes.
Although prices at the Royal Seven location were lower at the pump, customers can expect to pay a bit more for items purchased inside the convenience store than other nearby stores. For instance, king-sized candy bars are 50 cents higher than what is charged by competitors just down the street.
The owner of Al’s Shell Station on the other side of the interstate said that prices at the Royal Seven will not affect the way he does business. He said he only makes a few cents per gallon on gas, that it doesn’t make sense to take a cut and he will continue with his current pricing formula. He also said it has been business as usual at his establishment and hasn’t noticed any downtick in sales. He said customers are loyal to his brand and people who have Shell cards will always purchase Shell product regardless of the price. He considers his main competitor to be the Shell station directly across the street from his. The owner of that station refused to be interviewed.
The manager of the Circle K on Hwy. 18 whose price sign displayed $1.99 per gallon said they have noticed no drop in business even though they were 20 cents higher than Royal Seven. She said gas sales have been brisk and their loyal local customers are still coming in everyday making their usual purchases such as lotto tickets, tobacco products and the like.
Most of the managers and owners at any of the stations interviewed seemed to have little concern of the new station in town and most fully expect them to struggle it’s impossible to survive in business if you’re not making money. Some said they believe the Royal Seven 10-cents-under policy will be short-lived.
A planned Quik Trip station soon to be built at the intersection of Hwy. 18 and Patrol Road will be a corporation-backed facility and will be able to afford to sell gasoline at a lower price than other nearby stations. The owners of those stations say they aren’t overly worried because they say drivers will prefer to stop at stations located just off the interstate ramps rather than drive a block further down the street.