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Tallahassee businesses adjust to meet demand amid gasoline shortage

Posted at 11:07 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 23:07:21-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Across the Southeast, lines of cars wait for gas at the handful of stations lucky enough to have an available supply of gas.

Services industries like food delivery and home maintenance companies are also stuck waiting in lines or driving in search of gas. If it persists, that could mean a slow down for business.

Eddie Hogan was one of the many Tallahasseeans in line to buy gas today.

"It's absolutely nuts. I've been all over town and this is the third that I found that's open," he said.

While people in town look for gas to get to and from work, businesses that operate from behind the wheel are also adjusting to the hassle; like Barineau Heating and Air.

"I tell my team, "Don't go to the gas station if you have half a tank or more. There's a lot of people who really truly need gas and there's plenty to go around, it's just a matter of not panicking," said Barineau Heating and Air President Patrick Barineau.

He says their 26 trucks make gas stops every one to three days. For now, they're not turning down customers. Instead, they're crafting routes based on gas availability.

"We definitely had to think a little more strategic on our fleet and the calls we go on and how we take care of the customers create a whole other challenge to what is always a challenge," he said.

Barineau says with his industry, it's impossible to stay afloat without getting in the truck and making home visits. No matter how bad the shortage is, his workers will find a way.

"Now is just a matter of where the gas is. If we have to travel to Havana or Monticello, where ever the fuel is, that's where we're going to go," said Barineau. "If we have to stay up till three in the morning to find a gas station, that's what we'll do to serve our customers."

Munchies Pizza owner Eric Riser says his restaurant is also pivoting to make sure its employees aren't stuck on empty.

"We've actually set a rule this week that if anybody goes below half a tank of gas, they stop delivering," he said.

Riser fears that if the shortage continues, he'll have to stop deliveries altogether. Deliveries are a service that makes up nearly 40% of sales. Riser says that's not the only issue they're seeing.

"Regular business also seems to have slowed down. I'm assuming its because people don't want to spend gas to go out," he said.

Now the restaurant owner has to consider gas before planning out his day.

"Every day, I'm calling my drivers, 'Hey, did you manage to find gas this morning? How much gas do you have?' Just so I can plan my day," said Riser.

Smaller gas stations, like the Shell on Allen and North Monroe, have no idea when gas will return according to store employee, Kimberly Godbolt.

"We don't know for sure the time. Our store Red Hills is getting gas, but it's running out as soon as they get it," she said.

Companies now prioritizing bigger stations over their smaller counterparts.

"They're right beside the interstate so they're trying to serve them. We're smaller," she added.

Godbolt says if you're looking for gas, it's better to go online or call around instead of wasting gas driving around.