Photo by Scott Franz
Barry Ehrlich buys fuel Thursday at the Clark Store. The store is shutting down its gas operations next week.
Friday, December 30, 2011
Clark As he refueled his Jeep at the Clark Store on Thursday, Barry Ehrlich said he was glad the pumps outside the decades-old establishment weren’t dry just yet.
“I’m glad the pumps are still here today because I was running pretty low,” said Ehrlich, who was traveling from Steamboat Springs to Steamboat Lake to cross-country ski when he pulled into the gas station with less than one-eighth of a tank’s worth of gas left in his SUV.
But soon, the pumps won’t be there.
Ehrlich pumped out a small portion of the final 1,900 gallons of unleaded, premium and diesel fuel that will be sold from the Clark Store as it prepares to permanently shut down its fuel operations next week.
Clark Store manager Casey Bork said Thursday that her market no longer could afford to run its pumps that customers like Ehrlich use as an emergency source of fuel when their vehicles run low on gas somewhere along picturesque Routt County Road 129 between Steamboat and Hahn’s Peak. After the pumps close, the Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse, which is about seven miles north of Clark and 26 miles north of Steamboat Springs, will be the only full service gas station in North Routt.
“It is not economically feasible for us to be filling up our gas tanks here anymore,” Bork said. “The cost is too great to keep us in compliance” with state and federal regulations.
Bork said she already has heard complaints from customers about the closure, but she said others understand the economics of the decision. She added that the average gas ticket from the station in Clark is only $10.
“People here would rather have a Clark Store with no gas rather than having no Clark Store at all,” she said. “Not having gas will affect a little bit of sales, but we will still have our post office and all of our other services.”
Those services include a deli and grocery store, which Bork said likely will undergo a remodel and update sometime this spring, and a liquor store.
“We’re hoping to make up for taking the fuel away,” she said. “We know the winter will be tough, and we do feel bad because there are a bunch of snowmobilers and residents who rely on this place to get fuel.”
Clark resident Gina Britton said the gas stoppage will negatively impact the community.
“I’m really disappointed the pumps are closing,” she said. “People come up here to fill their snowmobiles, their ATVs, boats and RVs with gas. I depend on this station to add gas to my motorcycle in the summer and the equipment on my ranch.”
She added that having to drive the seven miles north to Steamboat Lake to get gas or 18 miles south into Steamboat will be an inconvenience.
Unleaded gas was $3.69 a gallon at the Clark Store on Thursday afternoon, and $4.19 a gallon for diesel. Bork said the fuel will be sold until it runs out, which she expects to happen by Sunday. She said the store will discount the fuel by 20 cents a gallon in anticipation of the pump closure.
Unleaded fuel at Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse, which is off C.R. 129 about a mile before Steamboat Lake, was $3.56 a gallon Thursday. Diesel was $3.87. The station is open 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.
“I feel for everyone who counts on the Clark Store for gas, and it has saved me several times on my way into (Steamboat),” Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse owner Carroll Zamzow said. “We want to let people here know they can count on us for fuel, and we’ll keep fair gas prices that are competitive with prices” in Steamboat.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com