The Free Press, Mankato, MN

St. Peter news

February 8, 2013

Escalating gas prices fuel concern

— All of a local gas station’s pumps were busy the other night, filling SUVs as well as compact cars. When questioned about the recent jump in gas prices — up to about $3.60 a gallon — drivers muttered similar answers: “Whatcanyado?” “I don’t have a choice.” “ I have to drive to my job.”

Even if you’re not a driver who typically tracks gas prices very closely, the recent hike of about 20 cents in two weeks has most customer noticing.

Fuel Price Finder, an AAA online service, Friday listed average gas prices in Mankato at $3.59. A week ago the average was $3.49 and it was $2.99 just last month.

Businesses that make deliveries are feeling the hurt of high fuel costs, too.

“Gas prices are killing us and killing our drivers,” said Brittany Sorell, assistant manager for Domino’s Pizza on Riverfront Drive.

It’s not uncommon for a pizza business employees to use their own vehicles to deliver to hungry customers. Some aren’t paid per miles they drive; instead they receive a set amount per delivery, and responding to a North Mankato pepperoni lover’s call typically entails a 14-mile round trip.

“Gas prices are so high. We are paid per run, so it doesn’t add up,” Sorell said.

Sorell and the businesses’ other drivers did see a break Sunday. “Super Bowl was quite profitable,” she said. “We made good on tips.”

Susan Huang of China Town in St. Peter said despite the gas price increase, her family-owned business does not plan to raise its $1.50 fee to deliver throughout town.

Bouquet buyers may see an increase in flower prices this week, but it’s more about availability for Valentine’s Day than gas prices. Ruth Swenson, manager of Hy-Vee Floral Shoppe, downtown Mankato, said her business pays a flat freight fee. She doesn’t plan to increase her shop’s fee for in-town delivery for the holiday, but she will need to budget for the expense of three or four delivery vans constantly running Thursday.

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