Why it’s pricey up here
I am not an expert on this, and I certainly don’t have the resume that you do, but I do have a fair amount of experience running a business in the upper valley, and I think that I might be able to shed some light on that which you are unable to explain.
I, too, have heard the explanation that gas prices are higher in Aspen due to the cost of transportation. And while transportation costs certainly contribute to higher gas prices in Aspen, I agree that they are not the sole cause. I am, however, quite surprised that someone with your credentials would fail to take into account the substantially higher real estate and labor costs that businesses in the upper valley must endure. Additionally, lower-volume stations (as I would suspect that both of the Aspen stations are) are typically slower to respond to rapid market changes such as we have seen in recent weeks than are large-volume dealers.
So, when you take that $2.70 gallon of Denver gas and add transportation costs, along with rent and labor costs that are some of the highest in the nation, and then couple that with sluggish response times to rapidly decreasing market conditions, you get $4-plus/gallon gas.
I suspect that the owners of the stations in the upper valley are, like most of us, working 10-, 12- and 14-hour days, trying to survive. One thing that I am sure of is that there is a more lucrative use of the real estate on which those stations sit, and that if we all do as you suggest, we’ll be burning a lot of gas to drive downvalley to fill our tanks.
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A recent survey of Aspen residents shows that people are happy here, feel safe but are financially insecure.