We sat down with the one and only Anthony Perrine, owner of Lou Perrine’s Gas and Grocery, to talk gas prices, new second location, Einstein Bagels and more.
Q. Would you agree when it comes to price volatility, the gasoline business isn’t for the faint-hearted?
Anthony: Traditionally gas is relatively stable. The volatility comes with major geopolitical issues like we are facing now. Unfortunately, this administrations push of EV has caused massive volatility as well. From a business owner, there really isn’t anything you can do. You should just raise or lower according to what the market did that day. But when gas gets this high you get a lot of retailers trying to sell below cost or afraid to go up on gas because we know it ultimately kills the consumer and their business.
Q. At press time the national average price for a gallon of gas just reached a milestone price of $4.14, just one year ago would you have ever imagined that Ukraine would play such a pivotal role?
Anthony: Last year when I thought of Ukraine all I thought about was Hunter Biden’s laptop. I would have never seen Russia making the move they did.
Q. This week a survey said that 71% of Americans would support a ban of Russian oil even if it meant higher prices in the U.S., does that number surprise you?
Anthony: It doesn’t surprise me at all. I think Americans tend to think emotionally, instead of logically. After 9/11 a majority of American’s were ready to go to war with any country in the middle east. What American’s tend to forget is globalization works and how complex it is. An oil ban doesn’t just effect gas prices, it snowballs into other industries like plastics, fertilizer, air line costs, and more. Although we don’t get a lot of our oil from Russia, it forces America and our friends to attempt to make up for that missing oil in the marketplace. Since we have slowed down production and have tried to eliminate fossil fuels locally, it leads us to make odd bedfellows with countries like Venezuela, Iran, and other historically anti-west countries.
Q. Where do you see gas prices 3 months from now?
Anthony: It is so hard to tell. I do think there are two possible outcomes in 3 months from now. Gas is closer to $5 or Gas is back below $3.
Q. Is there anything the Biden administration can do to soften the blow?
Anthony: If I were the administration, I wouldn’t go bowing down to countries that have historically been against us. I would publicly come out and admit that this country needs to work towards a fossil fuel free world, but it is going to take time. I would make mends with the local oil producers in this country. I would release reserves and guarantee to fill those reserves with local oil. The market is a very emotional tool. If the world heard that the US is coming back to produce oil while planning a long term transition away from fossil fuel would lower the market prices. He has attempted to get calls with the Saudi’s already and they wont take his call. It doesn’t do us good to shut down one bad leader only to prop up another bad leader.
Q. What about electric vehicles, do you see that as a solution to our energy problems or is there a downside we are not seeing?
Anthony: Long term EV will be the thing. I do not think it can be done as quickly as they are pushing it. You are seeing right now, when natural resources like nickel, palladium, and others that go into creating EV’s it causes a massive cost increase. An energy transition takes a very long time to work through the kinks and can’t be switched on and off like a LIGHTSWITCH.
Q. What do you envision as the future for your industry?
Anthony: Our industry will not look the same in 20 years. Locations on highways and highly traffic roads will do ok with EV. Inner city stores or neighborhood stores will not. They will become more convenience store / restaurant focused but will still offer fuel. At the end of the day, gas stations in the inner city will continue to survive because the cost of having and EV and or maintaining proper infrastructure is not something lower income individuals will be able to do. Lower income individuals will be the last to finally transition away from gas powered vehicles. To be quite honest, the energy policy of this administration is actually one of the most inadvertently racist policies ever to be pushed out of an administration.
Q. You are third generation having purchased the business from your father Lou in 2010, did you ever foresee yourself in this business when you were attending college?
Anthony: I was a young rebellious 20-something trying to find his way in the world. Growing up in the business and my parents instilling a hard work ethic & entrepreneurship at a young age, the gas station just seemed to make the most sense. Originally, I wanted to be on TV doing broadcast journalism or being the ShamWow guy.
Q. You are about to open a south side location, just how different is your new store compared to the original?
Anthony: We will try to have uniformity in offerings between the two stores. Same loyalty, same full service, same products inside. But with a new build it has allowed for us to have a very large beer selection (best variety in town inside a gas station), we added the Einstein Bagels which is a huge plus, and on top of that, I did receive the HBIIP Federal Grant to help offer E85 E15 at the pump. My whole goal was to take the rich history of my family in this community and tie in the old with the new.
Q. With supply chain issues still looming, how problematic has it been to build your new location?
Anthony: It’s been awful. This project cost me about 15% more than originally planned. We are still waiting on Einstein Equipment, they had to give us loaners to open. One week we will have Gatorade the next we will not. It’s all still a big mess.
Q. What can you tell us about Einstein Bagels?
Anthony: VERY EXCITED FOR THIS! I own the license for it. Now with a license, it is about 70% of the full menu you would get at an Einstein Franchise. We will continue to build up on it and hopefully add a drive-thru if the demand warrants. We will be on Door Dash. We will cater and offer curbside. The part I like the best is that you can come inside and pay for your gas and get a bagel at the same register. I think it’s inconvenient when you go to a gas station, and you have to pay for the fast food and then go pay for your other items. I’m in the convenience business and I think this model will make it very convenient for the consumer!
Lou Perrine’s Gas and Grocery
5145 Sheridan Road • 8004 22nd Avenue
Follow them on Facebook HERE
(This Q&A first appeared in the 3/10/22 issue of the Smart Reader)
Q&A by Frank Carmichael
Photos by Donny Stancato