Monday, July 03, 2006

My Scooter, Costco & Gas Savings

I thought I was cool. On a foot-pedaled razor scooter, I ran an errand, checked in on my kids, and squeezed in a bit of exercise while saving money on gas.


But I had second thoughts about my fuel-saving push when I looked at the bemused expressions on the faces of my kids. I feared that my scooter escapade was an embarrassment to my children.

If I'm really serious about saving gas, there are many roads to economy. I don't need a razor scooter to be fuel efficient. From unusual fuel vendors to price-checking services, it's possible to contain gas costs even during the peak summer travel months.

During a casual conversation, a friend mentioned that she was going to Costco, one of several wholesale clubs in the nation. And although her shopping list included the standard items, such as bulk purchases of paper goods and tuna fish, she also had plans to fill up her tank at Costco.

I made a few phone calls and I discovered that Costco sells gas at about two-thirds of its 238 warehouse stores in the United States. And the prices tend to be lower than local gas stations, according to my friend, a regular gas customer of Costco.

''That's our goal. We want to offer the lowest prices in the warehouse and at the gas stations,'' said Bob Nelson, a spokesman for Costco. There is one catch: You have to be a member of Costco to gas up at the store's pump. But often pump savings outweigh the $50 cost of the annual club membership, according to GasBuddy, an Internet-based service that tracks gas prices throughout the United States.

Other wholesale outlets such as BJ's Wholesale and Sam's Club also sell gas at various stores. For example, in my region, BJ's sells gas at five South Florida stores: Boynton Beach, Cutler Ridge, Kendall, Hialeah and Homestead. BJ's spokesperson Sharyn Frankel said, ``Prices though are typically 4 to 6 cents less than the average price in the market.''

At Sam's Club, company spokesman Olan James declined to give specific numbers but said, ``We try to be competitive in the markets where we sell gas.''

For many retailers, low gas prices are a loss leader -- a lure -- to get you into the store, where higher-profit items are for sale, according to GasBuddy.

Meanwhile, beware of service stations that are annexed to auto repair shops. Gas is typically higher at those outlets.

From your home computer, you can track the lowest gas prices. GasPriceWatch.com and GasBuddy.com are a few of the Internet-based sites that provide gas prices based on zip code, city, state and region. By providing a zip code, you can locate the lowest prices within a specific zone.

1 comment:

In Recovery said...

Costco has many advantages...and they treat their employees with dignity and pay them a living wage...another reason to go there besides the cheap gas!