Rock-Star Welcome

Customers wait more than 17 hours for newest Sheetz store to open

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- For years, coffee has been the rock star in Sheetz convenience stores, but with a starring role in a movie under his belt, company president and CEO Stan Sheetz received a rock-star welcome at a recent store grand opening in Chambersburg, Pa.

Customers eagerly waited to get T-shirts signed or have their picture taken with Sheetz during the grand opening of the chain's 400th store this past week, according to a report in The Public Opinion.

"I'm not a celebrity," Sheetz said. "(But) it seems that way. I'm flattered by it."

About 200 to 250 people were on hand for the opening of the new Sheetz store. Shortly after the store opened, there was a line of people waiting to talk to Sheetz or get a shirt signed.

Brenda Nenninger of Waynesboro, Pa., stood outside in the steady rain for a chance to tell him about an idea for a new location.

"He's a very pleasant person," Nenninger said. "I asked about putting another location down in Blue Ridge Summit. I think it's a good location. I think it would make that place hop."

A request for a new location is one of the things Sheetz hears the most when talking with customers.

"Some tell me where to build. Some tell me stories about their experiences. Some tell me about great ideas for new food items," he said. "Some just say thank you."

Nancy Cline got a T-shirt signed for her grandson. She was off work Thursday and waited outside the store for the 11 a.m. opening.

"I've been here since 6 o'clock this morning," she said. "To meet him, that's something else."

Penny Williams brought her two sons, Dakota and Andrew, to the opening. The two boys had their shirts signed while their mother snapped pictures with her cell phone. "Since we're from Texas, Sheetz is a new thing for us," she said.

The Sheetz name is well-known in the mid-Atlantic region, especially in central Pennsylvania, where the privately owned family company is headquartered. It took 31 years after its founding in 1952 by Bob Sheetz to reach 100 locations. Within another 28 years, the Altoona-based company grew to 400 stores.

"It's just one of those milestones. It's more a result of our people continuing to make the organization better," Sheetz said. "We plan to open 35 to 40 new stores a year. Obviously, we'll hit 500 in a couple more years, but our goal is to take care of our customers."

He said the secret to the company's success over time is its employees.

"I have to think it's our people. We spend a lot of time trying to find the right people to work in our stores. Once we find them, they stay with us."

After employees cut the ribbon to the store and Stan Sheetz presented a check to the Special Olympics organization, customers began pouring in. Food orders quickly began buzzing over the store speakers. The first 50 people in line received a free Sheetz gift card.

David Wynkoop, Waynesboro, was the first person in line when the store opened. He waited about 17 hours for the store to open, getting only 20 minutes of sleep.

"I like Sheetz, but for me this was an experience of a lifetime, and I wanted to see if I could do it," he said.

He immediately went inside and bought two hot dogs. "There ain't nothing like a Sheetz hot dog," Wynkoop said.

Charles Bonner, second in line, also waited since around 6 p.m. Wednesday. He did not get any sleep.

"The first few hours were kind of rough, but once they got the coffee going, it perked up a bit," Bonner said.

Read about Sheetz’s success in the CSP-Service Intelligence Mystery Shop in the August issue of CSP Magazine.