Q: Todd, why does the price of gas vary so much from one station to the next? I mean I live in North Canton, and gas is always more here than it is near Route 62. Sometimes it is 25 cents or more a gallon at two or three stations a few miles apart. Why?! —Tina, North Canton
A: I am going to assume since you took the time to write in, you won’t accept my grandpa’s answer: Because they can.
Actually, there is an answer to this, and you’re not going to like it. On the particular day you asked this question, the cheapest price for a gallon of gas in Stark County was $2.05 at the Canton Fuel station near Gross Avenue NE and U.S. Route 62. The most expensive was $2.29 at Marathon on 9th Street and Harrison Avenue SW. There is about 4.5 miles between the two stations, and if you’re buying 18 gallons of gas, that is a difference of $4.50.
This is called zone pricing. It is a strategy of oil companies that helps boost profits. The station you buy your gas from has little to no control over the price of gas. They are charging you based on what the oil companies are charging them on a given day, in a given hour for a given volume. The oil companies set prices based on traffic volume, station amenities, household incomes in the neighborhood and competitors.
I am a big believer in an app called “Gas Buddy.” If you don’t have it, and you’re not checking the price of gas before you buy, you’re probably overpaying for gas.
Q: My mom says time doesn’t go any faster in the summer than in the winter. Is she right?
A: You think I’m going to be the one who publicly tells your ma she’s wrong?
You should listen to your mom. She’s always right.
Time passes the same in the summer as in the winter. The 60 minutes it takes to make an hour doesn’t occur any faster in the summer. A minute is 60 seconds when it’s 85 degrees or if it’s 15. Daylight lasts longer in the summer.
What is likely happening is you’re busy having fun in the summer (swimming, hanging out with friends, Snapchatting, etc.) and in the fall, winter and spring, you have school. Now I’m not going to tell you a 60-minute chemistry lecture doesn’t drag on longer than 60 minutes in the pool, because, well, it’s a chemistry lecture.
Q: Has TimkenSteel stock rebounded?
A: I don’t wanna say I told you so here, but …
Remember when I was writing about the price of TimkenSteel and it was about $4 a share?
In May, it was $13.39 a share. If you would have invested $5,000 at $4 a share in January, you could have cashed out at $13 a share in May and made more than $10,000, which isn’t bad for five months of investing. Since May, the stock has tumbled a bit and was trading for about $9.75 a share in early July.