...but our neighborhood Shell no longer highest priced
A couple of years ago we ran a story in which we reported that the Madison Park Shell station (3100 E. Madison St.) had the most expensive gas in the city. A reader recently asked us to check out the station's current standing, so we did a little investigating and uncovered the fact that our local entry has fallen in the rankings to runner-up status.
According to website Gasbuddy.com, the Madison Park Shell, at $3.899 per gallon, now has the second-highest regular-gas price in town, being beaten for top honors by another Shell station located in Ballard, which is charging an eye-popping $4.299. Interestingly, the Shell station that is closest to Madison Park geographically (the one on Capitol Hill at 17th and E. Madison), is currently charging $3.649 per gallon for regular unleaded. For the convenience of filling up in the neighborhood, therefore, those who pump Shell regular down here are paying a 7% premium over what they'd pay by driving 1.1 miles up the street to buy their gas:
Depending on your point of view, the Madison Park Shell is either outrageously gouging its customers or simply charging what the market will bear. Convenience, after all, has a price.
In economic terms Madison Park as a gasoline-consuming market is probably a good example of the inelasticity of demand, where well-healed consumers are not influenced to reduce their buying simply because prices rise.
Or perhaps it's not that at all. Maybe it's just lack of information. The fact is, if you only buy your gas at the Madison Park Shell station and never looked at gas prices elsewhere, you might think you were doing quite well. After all, when we ran our original story, the Madison Park Shell was charging $4.099 per gallon. Today's $3.899 represents a 5% decline since early 2011.
Incidentally, neighboring Montlake is not doing a whole lot better than we are when it comes to in-market gas prices. Their Union 76 station is currently charging $3.799 per gallon, which places that outlet as tied for third worst on KING-TV's Seattle gas map.