Gas prices dropped below $2 per gallon in Stephenville for the first time in nearly two years.

Just one penny below $2, but a well-received change for Stephenville residents, nevertheless.

Friday afternoon, at the corner of Graham and Lingleville Hwy., prices dropped to $1.99 per gallon.

D.J.’s Deli and Supermarket Manager Patty Gibson said she received a fuel load from Sanford Oil Company that reflected a lower market price.

That price is being passed on to the consumer, Gibson said.

“Our costs have been going down all week but I had to sell what was on hand before I could get a new load,” Gibson said. “I just received a new load of fuel today.”

Gibson said that normally she would receive two or three loads a week and sometimes up to four in the summer. She said business has been incredibly slow this week due to the weather. She also said there is not much of profit margin with gas sales. The store depends on soft drinks, candy and cigarette sales, she said.

Brian Haile, owner of Rangler Convenience Store on the Lingleville Highway, said he dropped his price in response to D.J.’s lowering theirs.

“I went to the same price just to match them,” Haile said. “I have the same supplier as D.J.’s (and also received a fuel load Friday), and $1.99 is just over my cost. That’s about what I’m paying for it.”

Taylor Convenience Store located just across the Lingleville Highway also dropped their price in response to D.J.’s lowering theirs.

Is there a price war going on between the three stores?

Haile doesn’t think so - not yet anyway. He wonders what will happen if D.J.’s tries to stay lower than Taylors.

“Taylor pretty well runs the price and they go with HEB,” Haile said. “They have 300 stores and they can set it where they want and stay there. I have two stores. I can’t afford to go under them because if I go under they’ll go with me. I go with the market; I don’t try to run it. You can’t fight these guys. A lot of stores are a lot of power. We’re sure not getting rich.”

Haile said his cost fluctuates up and down all the time.

“We can’t run out and change the pumps for every two cent increase or drop,” Haile said. “Normally when prices are going up we’re losing money. Then when prices start to go down and we keep our price the same we get to make up some of that loss.”

Haile checked his records and said that on March 21, 2005, his selling price was $1.95 per gallon for unleaded and that same day it was raised to $2.02 per gallon.

Taylor Petroleum Assistant Manager Rachel Hardison said their store on the corner of the Lingleville Highway and Graham Street had not received a fuel load Friday. She said their price was also dropped in response to D.J.s.

ANGELIA JOINER is a staff writer for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at angelia.joiner or (254) 965-3124, ext. 238.