Those towering gas-station signs sporting bigger-by-the-day dollar figures tell most people all they need to know about gas prices. Gas goes in the car; more cash comes out of the billfold. But a more tangled tale of diminishing returns is emerging below the signs.
The gas prices that are pinching consumers are sapping profitability from gas stations, nudging some small owners to sell their businesses and properties at a time when tight commercial lending is making it harder for mom-and-pop investors to buy in.
The dynamics appear to be forcing the prices of gas-station real estate down for the first time in more than a decade, creating new opportunities for investors who have the strength to borrow and buy.
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