Alaska grocers move into gasoline sales

Fred Meyer, Carrs to sell gas in other part of the state

Posted: Wednesday, July 12, 2000

ANCHORAGE - Alaskans in Anchorage, Fairbanks and the Kenai Peninsula will soon be able to top off their gas tanks when they go grocery shopping at Carrs or Fred Meyer. Southeast residents, however, will have to wait.

Fred Meyer is opening a gas station today at its West Fairbanks store, said Rob Boley, a company spokesman in Portland, Ore. Stations at its East Anchorage store and at its Soldotna store will open later this summer, Boley said.

``We plan to put gas stations at as many stores as possible where we have room to build them,'' Boley said. ``But you don't want to take away from parking if parking is tight.''

Whether Juneau and other Southeast towns and cities are being considered for stations is still in the works.

``We are in the process of evaluating what stores are going to receive gas stations. It's our policy for competition reasons not to discuss any sites that might have them until we are under construction,'' Boley said.

Each gas station could mean as many as six new jobs for a community, Boley said.

Carrs is opening a five-pump gas station at its Eagle River store late this month. Officials said four stations will be built next year, although it was unclear whether Juneau's store was under consideration.

The move to add vehicle fuel to the goods offered by food retailers is part of a national trend. Many big retailers, including Kroger, Costco, Albertson's, and Wal-Mart have started selling gasoline. Many retailers already offer pharmacy services, fast food, Western Union, floral services, banking services and postage stamps in an effort to coax customers to their locations.

Costco plans to add more stations to the 96 it already operates in North America, said Paul Latham, vice president of gasoline. But Costco does not plan to open gas stations at its three Alaska stores (two in Anchorage and one in Juneau) before the summer of 2001, Latham said.

``The lines have blurred a little bit,'' Jeff Cook, a vice president with Williams Alaska Petroleum Co., which runs a chain of gas station and convenience stores. Companies are trying to win business from consumers whose busy lives give them little time to shop and run around, Cook said.

Empire reporter Ann Chandonnet contributed to this article.

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