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Not fuelish in price

New gas station open in Folsom
By: Roger Phelps, The Telegraph
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Restoring a family owned gas station operation to Natoma Street is the mission of the recently opened Folsom Fuel. The Aulakh brothers, Herman and Ranj, bring a notably low pump price, in-house proximity to a full-service garage -- operated by a lessee -- and a snacks-and-drinks store to 51 Natoma St., across from Folsom City Hall. It's been a lot of months since the previous family operation closed at the site. At closing, their pump price was $2.89, around the lowest in town. Folsom Fuel opened during the last week of August. "We bought it a year and a half ago, and it operated with a tenant," said Herman Aulakh. "Our intention was to run it, and lease out the auto shop. We know it's a great site." After gas hit $4.50 a gallon in July and the Aulakhs believed they were close to opening Folsom Fuel, they observed a slight down-trend in prices and began planning what at the time would have been an audacious move -- to open selling break-even gasoline at $3.99, "the lowest in the Valley," Herman said. A long round of tests to satisfy the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency followed, however, and pump prices continued to fall. Now, Folsom Fuel is under-cutting most operations for miles around by selling a gallon for $3.69 as of Monday. "Any station coming in, you know it's what you sell inside that makes the money," Aulakh said. "The pumps and gas take care of themselves." The in-house Folsom Speed auto shop had been open for two months when, with no fanfare, the gas pumps started pumping at Folsom Fuel. Motorists pulled in "pretty much immediately," Aulakh said. "We had a good street price." Shelving is still being bolted up in the convenience-store section, and merchandise is slowly finding its best place. The 59-cent sacks of salted peanuts, for example, were a slightly tough find recently for sales clerk Haley Bales. "Oh, they moved them up front," Bales said. "Eventually, we'll have coffee, and a soda fountain," Aulakh said. The business keeps long open hours, from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., and eventually will dispense gasoline all night long to credit-card customers. "Once we get the card-reader situation straightened out, the pumps will be open 24 hours," Aulakh said. The Telegraph’s Roger Phelps can be reached at rogerp@goldcountrymedia.com, or post a comment at folsomtelegraph.com