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Apr-24-2006 20:48printcomments

SPECIAL SERIES: Record High Gas Prices Taking It`s Toll on Salem-Keizer Residents, Business

With gas prices expected to go over three dollars a gallon before this summer, many families are temporarily exchanging their possessions for gas money, and some gas station owners say they want out of the business altogether.

Image Courtesy: Ottowa Citizen

(SALEM) - With gas prices in the mid-valley nearing three dollars a gallon, pawn shops in Salem and Keizer are seeing more and more business from people seeking a little extra cash to buy a tank of gas.

Pawn shop owners say business is increasing everyday, and most of the business is coming from families struggling to find $5, $10, $20, or $25 of extra cash to buy gas for their vehicles.

On Monday, just as the doors opened at Nopps Jewelry and Fine Art in downtown Salem, five people were waiting to pawn their stuff for gas money.

Garin Nopp said business is picking-up, thanks in-part to the gas prices.

He said customers have pawned such items as swords, pressure washers, tools, firearms, jewelry, televisions, and musical equipment.

But it doesn`t end there, some are pawing the families D-V-D movie collection, music C-D`s, electronic equipment, lawn mowers, baseball and stamp collections, gold coins, just about anything of value to get a buck for gas.

At Dan`s Pawn Shop in Keizer, workers there said that they are hearing the same thing almost everyday, " I don`t want to pawn this but I need gas money."

Business at the Keizer pawn shop has increased a little over the past few weeks because of the high price for gas.

But workers said they are expecting a flood of business once the price goes over three dollars a gallon.

Employees at Wherehouse Music on Lancaster Drive said they have been seeing a large increase in customers selling their D-V-D`s and C-D`s for not only gas money, but money for utility bills and food as well.

One employee said she reminds customers that both Fred Meyer at the corner of Market and Lancaster, and the South Salem Safeway offer gas price discounts to card holders.

Ranch Records in downtown Salem is also seeing a large increase in the number of people coming into their store to sell something for gas money.

An employee said it`s gone from one or two, to sometimes as many as ten customers per day who say they need an extra buck for gas.

Mark Davis from Salem said he had to pawn his daughter`s violin just to get enough money to fill his S-U-V`s gas tank for the week.

Davis said " the price for gas in Salem is getting ridiculous, soon even the Governor may try and pawn the gold man on-top of the capitol to fill-up state vehicles."

The Oregon Petroleum Association says the high price for gas has some gas station owners in the state wanting to get out of the business because it`s becoming harder and harder for them to make a living, plus the daily bombardment of complaints from customers who blame them for the high gas prices.

Elliott Eki with AAA said on Monday the national average for a gallon of gas is $2.91 a gallon.

The statewide average is $2.84 a gallon, 6-cents from a record high.

In the Salem-metro area, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas is at a record high $2.82 a gallon Eki said.

The previous record high in Salem was $2.791/2 on September 9, 2006.

Eki said it`s a good idea to pay for your gas with cash.

Many stations in the state are offering discounts to those who pay cash instead of using their debt or credit card Eki said.

Coming tomorrow: Local mechanics and auto repair shops talk about what effect the high gas prices are having on their business.



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