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Incentives Offered to Fuel Gas Sales

Walter Ancker is a businessman who owns a Shell gas station and convenience store at West Broad and Mill River streets. It's a good location with steady traffic. But in this economy, Ancker and store manager Esmely Fernandez realized that customers be lured by a little something extra. So he's offering a free item with every gasoline sale of eight gallons or more.

"People are happy getting something for free," said Ancker. "It's a goodwill type of thing, and it helps bring people in."

Customers have a choice of a free 12-ounce cup of coffee, a free 12-ounce can of soda or a free 16-ounce bottle of spring water. A large sign tells motorists of the giveaway, and they're also notified on the electronic pump screen.

"It's just something that other stations don't give. I'm the only one doing it," said Ancker, who remembers a time when it wasn't unusual for gas stations to lure customers with free gifts.

"Years ago, we used to have gasoline promotions. Shell gave away steak knives and NFL glasses," he said. "I bought this pump three and a half years ago, and I had to pay a lot of money for it. So the gas prices are a little high. I felt I had to give people something" to help draw them in.

On Tuesday, Ancker's gas prices ranged from $3.69.9 per gallon for regular to $3.99.9 per gallon for the V-Power brand. He has eight pumps.

The promotion "helps keep people coming," said Ancker.

Even customers who aren't aware of the promotion get a free item if they meet the gas-purchase requirement.

"Sometimes people are surprised," said Fernandez. "They say, 'For real? Something for free?' They don't believe they're getting something for free."

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