The gas station across from the Catlin Rotary Spray Park reopened earlier this summer. The new owner shares customer concerns about the price of gas.
Boondox Gas & Grocery is located on a small plot of land along Cowlitz Way, west of Kelso. The station has eight gas pumps outside and a supply of food, drinks and hats inside the building.
Boondox is the first business of the owner and manager of Kulvir Brar, but he grew up around gas stations. His father Dave Brar saved up to buy his first station decades earlier after moving from India. The family owns and operates several businesses in Cowlitz County, including Boondox Market and Boondox Liquor Plus in Longview.
“He was working day and night. That’s how most entrepreneurs are, they live in their business until it succeeds,” Brar said.
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Boondox is Kulvir’s first step into the business on its own. He bought the gas station in the summer of 2020 and has been running it with his cousin since it opened in late April.
It took longer than expected to reopen the closed station. Because the station had been closed for years, Brar said there were several issues that needed to be addressed before it could open. The construction process has been further delayed by COVID-19 cases and the pandemic’s lingering effects on the supply chain.
Gasoline pumps opened shortly before the record spike in gasoline prices and the decline in costs that slowly followed. AAA gas price tracking shows prices around Longview peaked on June 16 at an average of $5.63 per gallon of regular gas.
Brar said he knows how these high gas prices are affecting families and causing some people to cut back on their driving.
“We would explain that there’s not much we can do to fix the price. We try to get as many discounts as possible and keep our margins as thin as possible,” Brar said.
Brar has been able to maintain lower prices than other nearby stations that contract with Shell for their fuels. Boondox gas prices on Monday were $4.89 a gallon for customers paying cash and a 10-cent increase for credit cards. Just a mile further in Longview along Washington Way, prices at another Shell station are 30 cents per gallon higher.
Prices have steadily fallen in Washington and across the United States over the past six weeks, but have not returned to where they started the year. On Monday, the average price in Longview was $5.12 a gallon for regular gasoline.
Business has grown on the Boondox market side. Brar said most station customers enter the building to buy food or other items instead of just visiting the gas pump. Brar said he started building up a steady pool of customers who live nearby and started stocking the shelves with what regular visitors were asking for.
“People respect those kinds of comments. By doing the work to get those items, they’re more likely to come back to you when they need something,” Brar said.
Brar estimated that it would take over a year for the station to become truly profitable, but he was willing to commit to the business for the long term.
Talking Business is a series featuring new or expanded local businesses and print every Tuesday.
Contact Daily News reporter Brennen Kauffman at 360-577-7828 or email@example.com for possible inclusion in the series.