If you’ve ever driven by the General Brushless Car Wash on Evergreen Way in Everett you’ve likely seen the funny sayings on the readerboard. Today when I drove by, I saw on the sign that unleaded gas was $3.89. Since that’s much less than other stations are charging, I stopped in to ask the owner how he was able to offer such a good price. Mark Hoidal has been selling gas and washing cars for 37 years. He tells me he’s seen how the price fluctuates over time and as prices went up in recent months he adjusted how he buys his gas. Once affiliated with the Texaco brand, Hoidal is now unbranded and is free to choose from various suppliers. “My driver has five or six brands to choose from when he gets to the refinery,” said Hoidal. “They vary in price between five and ten cents a gallon depending on the brand and he selects the least expensive.”
Hoidal says that the price of gas remains high at many stations since they still have thousands of gallons in their tanks that they purchased at higher prices weeks ago. He says he didn’t re-order as often when prices went up and he let his tanks run empty. When it was time to fill up his storage tanks, he got only 5000 gallons instead of his usual 11,000. He did sell some inventory below cost to get to where he could charge less than the other stations and says he plans to drop the price another five to ten cents a gallon tomorrow. “I’d rather not be in the gas business and I don’t much like the gas business,” said Hoidal. “I’m really in the car wash business and just sell gas.” Hoidal says that now that the BP refinery is open again there’s a glut of gas on the market and he expects prices to continue to drop. With the market being spread so wide open with the opening of gas stations at stores like Safeway, Fred Meyer and Costco his strategy is to keep his prices the lowest in Everett, and hope people also need their car washed as well.