Shell Station Owner Raises Gas Prices In Protest Against Shell

Shell station owner Bob Oyster is selling regular gas for over $4, but he’s not price gouging. He’s protesting Shell. What? From the San Francisco Chronicle:

There’s a much deeper story here, and it begins with Oyster, a respected, self-made businessman who turned a single station into Oyster Petroleum, a profitable firm in Redwood City. Oyster is nobody’s fool. Don’t think he isn’t well aware that the Chevron station across the street is selling regular for 70 cents less.

Putting the price way up over $4 a gallon isn’t about making a profit. It’s about making a statement to a multinational corporation. After Shell forced him to pay higher prices for gas in San Francisco and jacked up his rent, Oyster says, he decided to fight back.

“I got fed up,” Oyster admits. “It makes a statement, and I guess when people see that price they also see the Shell sign right next to it.”

In fact, far from making a huge profit, Oyster is going out of business. He has operated the Shell station at Sixth and Harrison for 22 years, but he’s walking away from it at the end of the month, handing over the keys to Shell officials and expecting them to shut it down.

“I’m getting nothing for the station,” he says. “I just give them the keys and walk away. They told me they were probably just going to fence it and bulldoze it anyway.”

Oyster says Shell jacked up his rent in an attempt to put him out of business so they could replace him with their own station and employees, and it worked. He says that independent dealers don’t make a profit on the gas they sell, much like the way movie theater owners make all of their money on concessions. Shell denies this.

“All I’ve got is gas and cigarettes,” he says. “And you can’t sell that many cigarettes.”

So Oyster took matters to their logical conclusion. If it took $4 gas to get people’s attention, he’d give them $4 gas.

“I’m going out with a bang,” says Oyster. “And I don’t care if I don’t pump a gallon on the last day.”

Poor Bob. —MEGHANN MARCO

Dealer prices gas over $4 in protest [SFGate via Freakonomics]
(Photo: Liz Mangelsdorf)