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Looking for cheap gas -- or nachos to go?

   On the bright side, we're not writing about record highs of $4 a gallon like last year's Fourth of July holiday travel.

   But the average price of gasoline has risen 60 cents since the start of May.

   Of course, exactly how much you pay for each gallon depends on where you drive.

   In the towns of Hamburg and Amherst, prepare to pay more.

   In Kenmore and East Aurora, where prices are lower, you might save enough to spend on a newspaper during each trip to fill up.

   The News analyzed nearly 8,500 daily gas prices at more than 300 retail gas outlets in Erie and Niagara counties throughout the month of May to figure out where a tank of gas costs more, or less.

   The Delta Sonics and Kwik Fills are among the cheaper brands, and so are many of the unbranded stations.

   So how does the most expensive station in Erie County, the Mobil on Boston State Road in the Town of Boston, compete with the lower-cost gasoline stations?

   With hot dogs, nachos, coffee, pet food, cigarettes, shampoo and hundreds of other items it stocks. Even red worms and night crawlers.

   In fact, assistant manager Darlene Weiss estimates only 40 percent of the customers come just for gas.

   It stays open 24 hours a day.

   It's got a convenient location just off Route 219, and its nearest competitor is more than two miles away.

   "Every day is getting to be the same: busy," she said.

   Apparently, enough people are willing to pay about 11 cents more a gallon at the Mobil than the price charged at most stations.

   Would you?

   And how far out of the way, if at all, do you drive to save a nickel or dime on a gallon of gas?

   -- Patrick Lakamp

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