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Fabens Gas Station Owner Struggles To Stay In Business

by ABC-7 Reporter/Anchor Ken Molestina

FABENS, Texas — Though gas prices are headed down a bit, one private gas station owner says the pinch is being felt on both sides of the pump.

Travel 30 miles east of El Paso on I-10 and you will stumble across one of the oldest institutions in Fabens, the Barton Exxon, open since 1968.

The smiles are plentiful but unfortunately, the cash flow has been everything but.

“We went through a 9 1/2 months and it was just brutal,” owner Gary Barton said.

Barton says he came within a hair of shutting down this year.

Because he buys all his products and is a small independent store, he just couldn’t compete with the new shop across the street.

“If I’m seven or eight cents higher than the competition, it’s because I have to be. I just can’t compete with them. I wish I could, but I don’t have deep enough pockets. It’s just like going to a gunfight with no bullets in your gun,” Barton said.

It might look like a gust of wind knocked down the numbers on the sign posting gas prices, but Barton says it’s like that by design.

“I can’t compete with the man across the street. If I post my price he cuts his by 10 percent.”

Barton says his saving grace that has allowed him to stay in business is the loyalty from those who have known him for year.

“I come here because he’s my friend. He’s been my friend for years. I want to help when times are not the rosiest,” said customer Kit Bramblett.

Barton says he had to refinance some loans and even his pickup truck earlier this year to keep the business from closing its doors after nearly 40 years.

“It hurts when you see your friends at other places, and shopping at other places, it hurts,” Barton said.

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