On Saturday morning, there was just one lone car in the parking lot of the Fas Mart on Goodyear Boulevard.
No cars lined the pumps on what normally would be a busy day at the convenience store.
Although gas prices have taken a dramatic drop attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, that hasn’t necessarily translated into more customers, assistant manager Shasta Williams said.
“Oh yeah, we’re slow,” she said, looking out toward the parking lot. The price was $1.65 per gallon Saturday morning. A few weeks ago, prices topped $2.
“Our sales are down dramatically, no businesses are open, everybody’s trying to stay in the house I guess,” she said.
Williams attributed the lack of business to residents spending money on other items, fear about traveling and catching the virus and also the impending temporary closing of the Goodyear plant.
“We get a lot of business from them,” she said.
Williams said she was enjoying the lower pump prices.
“My tank’s riding on full and it’s never like that,” she said, a large smile on her face.
Minutes later, a silver van pulled up to one of the pumps. A woman wearing a powder-blue hospital mask walked inside the store and paid for gas on a pump.
However, other stores in Danville have seen an increase in gas purchases over the last few days.
Over at the Liberty Mart on West Main Street, a cashier who only identified herself as D. Robinson believes the cheaper prices are helping to drive in more customers. “They’re buying more because gas is cheaper,” she said. “We see a lot of people coming through.”
The patriotic red, white and blue sign out front advertised $1.55 per gallon.
Recently, the store has had such an influx of customers gas pumps sometimes will be backed up, she said. The decrease in gas prices has been good for the store, and Robinson’s personal life, she said.
“I feel good about it; you can afford to get more,” she said. “But where can you go? Because everyone’s scared to travel outside.”
Ken Mitchell, from Caswell County, North Carolina, is enjoying the lower fuel prices. He was fueling up at the Liberty Mart on Saturday.
“Yeah they’ve been going down right steady lately,” he said, looking over his shoulder at the tall gas sign in the corner of the parking lot. “With the gas prices going down, it’s a good relief of the other prices going up,” he said.
Since it’s a deputy with the Caswell County Sheriff’s Office, his travel routine hasn’t changed much because of the coronavirus, Mitchell.
Although the coronavirus has led to cheaper gas and more customers, it has caused a noticeable change in attitudes.
“People will stand a certain distance from each other when they come in here,” Robinson said. “People are taken aback when someone coughs or sneezes; people are on edge.”
David Allan, a native of Pelham, North Carolina, watches gas prices every day and has noticed the drop. But, he is unmoved by the sudden change.
“It’s just going to go back up again,” he said, filling up the tank of his red pick up truck.
Rashid Tamil, a cashier at the Edgewood Expressway Mart on West Main Street, has seen an influx of customers paying for gas.
“Yeah, the last couple days,” he said, looking up over his glasses. Edgewood’s price per gallon also was $1.55 Saturday morning.
When asked how the coronavirus has affected the store, he said he was unsure, but said it has definitely impacted his personal life.
“I don’t go out to other places anymore,” he said.
Avent is a reporter with the Danville Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 797-7983.