Higher Gas Prices Impacting Tewksbury Residents
For some, it's affected their business. For others, it's changed travel patterns. But no one has been immune from gas prices that are averaging just under $4.00 a gallon.
On most days you’ll find Mark Valente selling homemade dishes and comfort food to people throughout Tewksbury, stopping at various parking lots of businesses with his mobile catering business.
The Valente’s Catering truck has become a familiar feature about town, but that may change in the near future as he and various other Tewksbury residents struggle with the steadily increasing cost of gasoline in the area.
For Valente, who has operated in town for several years but only moved here from Wilmington recently, the gas price spikes have not only affected the operation of his vehicle, but every single facet of his business, and he fears it will only get worse.
“The cost of everything I buy has doubled, whether it’s gas or other products made from petroleum like plastic forks, or food that costs more because it has to be delivered to me by trucks that use gas. And yet, I can’t raise prices because my customers since they’re feeling the pinch too,” said Valente in the parking lot of Mahoney’s Garden Center. “And nobody’s doing anything to help us. It’s not just killing my business and killing Tewksbury, it’s killing this country.”
As Valente deals with the price spikes in the present, the increases have also affected future plans such as those of 17 year old Taylor Hughes, an employee at Donna’s Donuts.
At one point, Hughes thought of buying a car, but as she saw gas prices steadily increase, she’s held back on even bothering to get her license, let alone shopping for a vehicle. For the near future, it’s much cheaper in her eyes to give gas money to friends and carpool than take the plunge and commute on her own.
“You can afford gas or you can afford a car, but you can’t afford both it seems,” she said.
While some gas station attendants in town noted they have not seen a decrease in business due to rising prices, others have seen significant drop offs in the amount of customers they’ve seen recently.
At those stations, a mentality of inevitability has arisen since the attendants figure that even if people are upset about gas prices, it’s beyond their control and people need cars to survive in our society no matter what the price.
“If prices go up, they go up. It might mean less business, but gas is still a necessity,” said Brittnay Lee, a clerk at the Shell Station on Route 38 just north of Shawsheen Street.
Lee commutes every day from Haverhill, and continues to drive as much as she did when prices were lower. In her eyes, the real change isn’t driving habits, but gas shopping habits.
“Not much has really changed, I just see more people shopping around,” she said. “Then again, you get what you pay for I guess.”
Less than a mile north of Lee on Route 38, Enrique Flores has a similar viewpoint from his role as a clerk at Citgo, where he estimates business has gone down 30 percent. Living in Revere and going to school in Canton, Flores has little sympathy for those who complain, but he continues to hear it, especially from the elderly.
“People keep on asking me why prices are so high, and I say not to ask me since it’s not really in my control,” said Flores. “If people want to pay less, they should drive smaller cars or just drive less.”
And some have been trying to follow Flores’ advice.
Jill Connolly used to visit her boyfriend in New Hampshire on a regular basis, but as gas prices have increased she’s become more conscious of trips to the Granite State as well as around town.
“Gas is cheaper up there, but it’s still a drain on my wallet, so I go there less frequently,” said Connolly, who works at the Tewksbury Public Library. “I’ve become more conscious of where I go, I try to do everything in one trip if I can.”
According to AAA, the average price of Gas in Massachusetts is $3.99 a gallon, up from $2.91 a gallon from a year ago.
At the time of this article, observed gas prices in Tewksbury ranged from just under $3.90 a gallon to just under $4.10 a gallon.