With gas now priced at an ungodly sum per litre some of us older folks have been thinking back fondly on B.C.'s "gas wars" of the 1990s and earlier, when prices sometimes dipped below the 30-cent per litre mark.
Believe it or not, this was a time when gas station owners would have price wars to try to attract customers in order to sell a higher volume of product as well as get them in the door to buy snacks, cigarettes, and lottery tickets.
The average price was around 55 cents per litre in 1995 when I worked as a full-serve attendant at Tri-Star Gas in my hometown of Vernon. That year we had the most incredible gas war I can recall.
One afternoon the station owner decided to reduce the price by a couple of cents, as sales were slow the week prior. One of my jobs was to take out the ladder and adjust the price on the sign in front of the station, so I lugged it out and replaced the large plastic numbers to display the lower price.
The competing station across the street soon noticed that people were lining up to get gas from us so they, in turn, sent one of their attendants up their ladder to reduce their price to match ours.
Not content, my boss sent me up the ladder again to bring the price down another couple of cents. You can guess what the guys across the street did then.
This back and forth (or up and down the ladder) went on for a couple of days until the price was a mere 29 cents per litre, a sum that would leave today's motorists with their jaws on the floor.
The lineups got longer as people came from all corners of the town to fill their cars and their jerry cans as they knew it couldn't last. One man even brought in buckets that he had hoped to fill with fuel, but we had to turn him away.
Eventually, both station owners were losing money and something had to give. I'm not sure who increased their price but about a week after the price war began, it was over.
You can still find the odd gas war in small towns across the province, but they're not as common as they used to be. If you ever see them happening in Vancouver please, please send me an email letting me know.
And leave your buckets at home.
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