Casey's to Pilot Pizza Delivery

And Sheetz mulling wine kiosks

GRIMES, Iowa & ALTOONA, Pa. -- Two leading convenience retailers are experimenting with unusual new profit centers. The chief financial officer of Casey's General Stores Inc. said that the chain plans to test a pilot program for delivering pizza. And Sheetz Inc. is considering rolling out wine kiosks.

Bill Walljasper told the Associated Press that Casey's plans to test the delivery option at just one location, in Grimes, Iowa, near Des Moines.

The company plans to hire two to three drivers for the Grimes store and deliver pizzas from 4:00 to 10:00 p.m. starting [image-nocss] next month, the report said.

Walljasper said that the company has not determined how long the test program will last.

Casey's, headquartered in Ankeny, Iowa, has 1,618 stores in 10 states throughout the Midwest: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) could expand its Pronto wine kiosk program to Sheetz Inc. convenience stores, a board spokesperson told The Central Penn Business Journal. "Sheetz is interested," Stacey Kriedeman told the newspaper, adding that discussions are in their preliminary stages. The retailer is thinking "long and hard" about whether it wants to host the kiosks, a company spokesperson said.

The company is looking into the possibility; but the vending machines' size and checkered reliability record are worrisome, Louie Sheetz, executive vice president of marketing, told the paper.

The kiosks, built by Simple Brands LLC, Conshohocken, Pa., operate in more than 30 supermarkets (including Giant Food Store, Wegmans Food Market, Giant Eagle, The Fresh Grocer and Shop 'n Save) and were approved for 24 Walmarts last week, the report said. Unlike big-box retailers, c-stores have limited floor space, and the kiosks might displace too much other merchandise to be worthwhile, Sheetz said.

The possibility of downtime also is a concern, Sheetz said. The PLCB suspended kiosk operations in mid-December to address repeated "mechanical and technological issues," including product not dispensing, according to a press release on the board's website. The machines were restarted early this year, said the report.

Sheetz sells alcohol in other states and the company has sought for years to sell beer in Pennsylvania. (Click here for previous CSP Daily News coverage.)

The board has said it would like to have 100 kiosks operational by year's end. The kiosks stock about 40 varieties of wine, said the report. at optimal temperatures. The wines range in price from $5.99 to $39.99, PLCB said on its website.

The kiosks feature technology to ensure compliance with the PLCB's measures to prevent sales to underage or intoxicated persons. The buyer must insert photo identification into the kiosk, which processes the age information on the bar code. It matches the photograph on the ID with a video image of the buyer at the kiosk. A PLCB employee monitors each transaction from a remote location and confirms that the video of the purchaser matches the person's driver's license ID.

The kiosks also have a built-in breathalyzer that requires no contact with the device and provides an instant reading to ensure the buyer is not under the influence. If a breath alcohol level of .02 or higher is detected, the consumer will not be able to make a purchase.

The PLCB is a government agency that manages the beverage alcohol industry in the state.

Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz operates approximately 390 convenience locations throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina.p>