Drivers Lament Driving on Empty
Driving down a busy street in my hometown, I notice my Subaru is running on fumes. Having inadequate time to fuel up, I search for that favorite place of my youth- but there's an irony to be found: the 7-11 is missing.
There used to be one or two franchises. But now, there's no 7-11's. No Citgo.
Today, the gas station/convenience store sucks compared to the 1980s and 1990s, when a driver had a place to go gas up, pick up some cards, nachos, and a Slurpee or a Big Gulp. Dirty, middle-aged old men might have picked up some porn.
Now, in Caldwell, as well as in other parts of Idaho, there's only a Jacksons Food Store. Well, there's four. One on Linden, one on Logan, one on 10th, and one on Montana.
"Seven-eleven, for the most part, has always offered Citgo gas," said Jamie Davidson, author of "Convenience Store Corruption", a detailed account of the rise and fall of gas stations and convenience stores.
Eighty year old franchisee Allen "Big Gulp" Ginter became a millionaire from the business-but laments as he considers a future where transportation involves horse and buggy. "When the twenty-year contract with Citgo expired, well, 7-11 was no longer valuable. People stopped buying gas. I've heard some places even stopped taking checks. What?! How in the world can you fuel up?"
Today, the price of a barrel has fallen to below $104-down $40 from forty-one months ago.
"I think it's all the gas-guzzling vehicles out there," said Davidson. "I think the blame can be spread around. It can certainly go to the auto-makers, who built these gas-guzzlers. Blame the consumer: they're sticking to the old, beat-up boats that get horrible MPG. They can't afford to drive."
Add in the rise of the smart-car, dollar-menus at many fast food restaurants, internet porn, scooters, mopeds, and an increasingly cashless society, and what you get now are barren streets in Caldwell- as empty as American's pocketbooks.