WESLEY CHAPEL — Looking for cheap gas? Then steer clear of the corner of State Road 54 and Boyette Road.
A small, independently owned Citgo gas station there is charging the highest gas prices in the Tampa Bay area, according to www.tampagasprices.com, which relies on locals to submit neighborhood gas prices.
Friday at the station, a gallon of regular grade gasoline cost $4.19.
According to www.tampagasprices.com, the Tampa area average Friday was $3.85, nationwide, it was $3.91.
Those filling up at the Citgo said the station was conveniently located, if not cheap.
"It's on the way home," said Paul Morton, a San Antonio rancher who filled up a red gas can for his lawn mower.
John Haughton lives across the street from the store.
"I never fill up here," he said as he put a few gallons in his Saturn. "I just get enough gas to go somewhere else."
Owner Sanjaya Patel said he bought 20,000 gallons of gas from Presto Petroleum on Thursday. He paid the supplier $3.99 per gallon for regular grade, $4.19 for premium.
Patel said he tries to make a 10 percent yearly profit on gas, which makes up half of his store's sales.
He also marks up the prices to accommodate credit card companies that he said charge him 4 percent when customers use plastic to pay for their fill-ups. Patel does not charge credit card users more than customers who pay in cash.
"People think that we are making the most money, but they don't know the whole thing," he said.
Another reason for the high prices — Patel said the gas he sells is pure gasoline, not an ethanol blend, which would be cheaper for him to buy. Customers get higher mileage from the pure gas than the blend, he said. He did not know the exact difference in mileage.
Down the road, a Hess station charged customers $3.77 for a gallon of regular-grade gas. A sign on the pump said the gas was less than 10 percent ethanol.
The Hess station charged customers about 22 cents less than Patel paid his suppliers, but he hasn't considered switching to an ethanol blend.
"I'm happy," he said. "People are still buying from my place."
Helen Anne Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 521-6518.