With gas prices on the rise, many motorists in Letcher County are waiting in long lines this week to buy gas at much cheaper rates thanks to a five-day promotion from Childers Oil Company.
“Our thinking is that we have had a long, hard winter. Gas prices are higher. Let’s do something fun,” said Missy Matthews, vice president of operations of Childers Oil Company.
Gas was $1.99 a gallon at the Mayking Exxon gas station and $1.995 a gallon at Dry Fork from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Monday. Each day this week the promotion will be offered at a different gas station. The way the price is determined at each gas station depends on the year the station opened.
“It’s all about the year the stores opened,” said Matthews.
The first two gas stations participating in the promotion, which saves motorists about $1.50 a gallon, are the two newest stations owned by Childers Oil Company.
“People would pre-pay with $50 and would be so excited to go back in and get $20,” said Matthews. “This will stimulate our economy because people will have extra cash.”
Tuesday, gas was $1.98 a gallon at the Isom BP and the Marathon at Whitco.
She said the company may not offer the promotion at the Double Kwik at Pine Mountain Junction because of safety reasons only.
The promotion was not publically advertised over the radio or in newspapers because organizers were afraid it would be too chaotic and unsafe. Even the employees at the gas station don’t know which store will have the marked down price until about an hour before the event begins.
Matthews said word quickly spread on March 7 as people texted and called their friends and family as well as posted status updates on the social networking site Facebook letting people in on the big savings opportunity.
“As of noon the first day we realized we could not advertise this,” said Matthews. “There are only so many cars you can fill in an hour.”
Automobiles were lined up 20 and 30 in a row heading in both directions leading to the Mayking gas station around noon.
Around 1 p.m. Matthews and other Childers Oil Company employees talked to motorists waiting in line and let them know that the price would be changed back in an hour and they may not make it to the front of the line before 2 p.m. She said most people understood and some told her how appreciative they were and said they really benefited from the savings.
Matthews said a woman explained to her how she was traveling a lot to visit a relative in a hospital.
“This one lady was sitting in her car crying,” said Matthews. “She said you don’t even know how bad I need this gas. She felt like it was a blessing because she needed the gas money.”
Matthews said Childers Oil Company usually has a big promotion in the summer where a few people win. Last year the company paid off three mortgages, one totaling $10,000, another $3,000 and one at $2,000. In previous years it has given away a Harley Davidson motorcycle and a Chevy pickup truck.
Matthews and her husband, Junior, came up with the idea to offer gas at a lower price for certain time slots. They wanted to try out the idea in Letcher County.
“We wondered what we could do so there would be more winners,” said Matthews. “How would it work with the gas prices increasing if we gave back to everyone? We just thought we would try it.”
The promotion is being called “Old School Days” and some items in all the stores are greatly reduced in price. An RC Cola and MoonPie are 89 cents as well as a small Pepsi Throwback and a candy bar or a Coca Cola in a glass bottle with a package of peanuts. Also available are 25-cent cups of coffee and 59- cent pizza rolls.
“We thought it would be fun to feature those items that were popular when the stores first opened,” said Matthews.
Matthews said do the event may be done again if it continues to go well the rest of the week.
“This is probably the craziest thing we have done,” said Matthews. “We genuinely just want to have fun with our customers and give back to them. All the conversation is about which store is next.”