Chukchansi Crossing Fuel Station & Travel Center in Coarsegold has opened a year after construction started in January 2017,
The station features 18 pumps, two pumps in the back that will host motor homes and trucks, two electric charging stations and a smoke shop.
A car wash, a Peet’s Coffee shop, and a burger restaurant will be added in the near future, according to an article by Donald A. Promnitz in The Business Journal of Fresno.
The Chukchansi station is one of two to be opened recently by Indian nations in this area, joining a third, the Eagle Feather Trading Post in Porterville.
Yokut Gas, a Lemoore station run by the Tachi-Yokut tribe, opened about the same time as the Chukchansi station and includes 16 gas and diesel pumps, two racing fuel pumps and two electric charging stations. There is also a 3,000-square-foot convenience store with plans to add beer and wine sales.
The Tule River Tribe has been operating the third site, Eagle Feather Trading Post in Porterville.
The Tule River Tribe also bought a second location in Avenal, but it is not on reservation land.
J.J. Mancini, president of Desert Fuels, a petroleum wholesaler in Albuquerque, New Mexico, said he has seen a significant rise in the demand for gasoline on reservation land, because tax laws are different for reservations, giving tribes a price advantage..
“If you see a tribe as their own sovereign nation — which they are — they fall under federal government jurisdiction and generally not under state government jurisdiction,” Mancini said. “It varies state-by-state. Some tribes have reached a pact with the state so that the fuel taxes just pass through, or even tobacco taxes pass through.”
Mancini said the result is cheaper prices and a better bargain for the customers.
“All the tribe is trying to do is gain a price advantage, so that they get the customers,” Mancini said. “If they get the customers, then just like Costco or Sam’s Club, they’re bringing people into their other businesses, whether it’s liquor sales, convenience stores, casinos, etc., and they’re using fuel as a draw.”
However, there is no guarantee that reservation fuel will be the cheapest in town. In Porterville, there are at least two gas stations that are cheaper than Eagle Feather according to fuel price database gasbuddy.com.
In Coarsegold, Chukchansi Crossing’s low prices are 10 cents cheaper than Coarsegold Self Service, with the cost of regular unleaded going at $2.59 per gallon.
“We focus on the volume instead of the margin,” said Amar Singh, the manager at Coarsegold Self Service. “And we’re trying to help the town over here.”
Still, as long as reservations are able to keep prices down, Mancini said, it’s likely this trend will continue.
“I think that it would be a no brainer for tribes to do that,” Mancini said. “If they can sell a similar, or like product at a significant discount — as far as a business perspective — is a business person’s dream to sell the exact same product at a significant discount.”