Tower Mart creates frenzy at gas pumps

Cheap gas promotion forced to end early
By: Brandon Darnell
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“Tower Mart 134, John speaking. Yes, our gas prices are correct, how can I help you?” was how manager John Woods was answering the phone Thursday, with gas prices starting at $1.99 for regular. But by Friday, the frenzy the cheap gas had caused -- with massive traffic jams and some reports of pump rage -- forced the gas station on Nicolaus and Lakeside to abandon the promotion. Gas prices went back up Friday -- first to $2.99, then to $3.29, where it stayed until Tuesday, when it went up to $3.69, comparable with other stations in town. Woods said he raised the prices because people in the long line of cars were starting to cause problems. “There was some arguing, I heard there were some fights, but I didn’t witness any,” he said. Woods said Lincoln Police told him they couldn’t monitor the traffic, and would bill him for his time if they had to. “We didn’t tell him he had to stop the sale,” said Lt. Paul Shelgren of the Lincoln Police Department. “If we had to be out there to monitor the traffic, we told him there was the possibility he could be billed.” Shelgren said police were called out later Thursday night when Woods ran out of gas and faced customers who had waited for long periods of time for gas that was no longer available. “It’s kinda hectic right now,” Woods said Thursday afternoon. He had been receiving calls from as far away as West Sacramento. Marie Toletino of Roseville was one of the drivers who waited 35-45 minutes in line Thursday for a spot at the pump. Was it worth it? “Yes, definitely,” she said. “I even left shopping.” She heard about the deal from her brother in-law, who lives in Lincoln. Filling up usually costs Toletino $120, and she hoped to save as much as $60, she said. Douglas Peterson of Lincoln got a phone call from his aunt and headed over. “Right after work, I showered and came out here,” he said. He usually takes 17 or 18 gallons and spends $85-$90. “It’s riding on ‘E,’ ” he said.