The Middle East mess has sent oil prices higher, but that hasn’t shown up yet at the pump.

The average price of a gallon of gas in the metro area on Tuesday was $2.21.3, virtually unchanged over the last week, according to www.fueleconomy.gov. Still, it’s 35 cents higher than a year ago.

Kansas City gas prices remain well below the national average – $2.60.7 on Tuesday and $2.24 a year ago. Overall, Missouri has some of the lowest gas prices in the country,

Awards and more

The Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce will name the business of the year at its annual banquet next week.

The nominees are Blue Springs Marine, MVP Awards & Engravings, Trinity Wellness, Colonial Gardens, Dell’s Powersports, Massage + Fitness + Health, Rink Ratz, RE/MAX Heritage, and Los Cabos Mexican Grill and Cantina. The banquet is at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Adams Pointe Conference Center.

The Independence Chamber of Commerce has its annual banquet the next night, at 6 p.m. at Arrowhead Stadium. The speaker is comedic actor David Koechner. He’s a Missouri native and the guy who shouted “Whammy!” a lot in the “Anchorman” movies.

That ship has sailed?

Pier 1 continues to struggle and is closing up to 450 stores.

A year ago, the company had almost 1,000 stores, With these cuts, it will be at fewer than half of that. It’s currently at 4,000 employees. The company hasn’t said which stores will close. Bloomberg reports that Pier 1 is preparing to file for bankruptcy.

The chain has more than 900 stores nationwide and is now down to half a dozen in the metro area and just one – SummitWoods Crossing in Lee’s Summit – in Eastern Jackson County. The Independence store on Jackson Drive closed some time ago.

Does anyone besides me remember the company’s funky old store on Noland Road north of 39th Street back in the ’70s? It was a much less shiny and polished thing than what Pier 1 was reincarnated as later, but it was kind of cool. Times change.

One other retailer is exiting Eastern Jackson County as well. Nuts & Bolts Hardware, once rapidly growing, is closing its Noland Road location a couple years after closing on Missouri 291. It’s down to two stores in the immediate metro area – Overland Park and Gladstone – but still has locations in Kearney, Odessa, Lexington and Pleasant Hill.

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at 816-350-6365 or jeff.fox@examiner.net. He’s on Twitter at @FoxEJC.