WESTMINSTER - The owners of the Direct-To-You gas station on East George Street have re-opened two months after they closed the business, complaining they were charged unfair prices by the big oil companies.
Jim Langdon Sr., Jim Langdon Jr. and Doug Quade re-opened the station Oct. 19 and are charging the lowest prices in town for gasoline -- $1.299 for regular unleaded.
When they closed the 35-year-old station in August, the owners said they could not remain competitive and after having sales decline by 42 percent, decided to shut down.
Before he decided to close, Langdon said his wholesale gas cost was higher than his competitors' retail prices.
Allegations that independent dealers statewide were being charged unfair prices compared to stations served directly by big oil companies were being investigated by State Comptroller Louis Goldstein's office.
Direct-To-You even made national news. Earlier in October, The Wall Street Journal printed a front-page story about the company.
That was followed a few days later by a report on ABC's "Nightline" program. Jim Langdon Jr. was spokesman for the company for both stories.
Jim Langdon Sr. said he decided to re-open the station because he is getting a fair price for gasoline. He declined to name his two new distributors at Baltimore's oil terminals.
The Langdons' two other stations in Thurmont, Frederick County, and Gettysburg, Pa. re-opened earlier in October. They had been closed in August along with the Westminster station.
All of the company's 19 employees also are back at work.
Direct-To-You is a full-service, cash-only station.
While the Langdons are returning to the gasoline sales business, Little George's Convenience Stores are getting out of it.
George Mezardash,owner of four Little George's, said he decided some months ago to stop selling gas because of high insurance premiums and low profit margins.
The insurance was required for underground storage tanks, he said.
Mel Higgs, owner of nine Little George's, said the insurance costs and escalating wholesale prices of gasoline have made it difficult to cover expenses.
The underground tanks at the Klees Mill store recently were removed, but the other tanks have been left in place should it become profitable to sell gasoline again, Higgs said.