YORK, Pa. -- Convenience and grocery retailers in Pennsylvania are moving quickly to snap up "zombie" liquor licenses on the heels of the state loosening restrictions on who can sell cold beer and wine in the state.
This month, eight retailers and eight restaurants or individuals walked away from the latest state auction of zombie licenses—so called after they lapsed from previous owners for enforcement violations or renewal issues. Winning bids ranged from $25,000 to $463,000.
Convenience-store retailer Sheetz Inc., Altoona, Pa., was the big winner in the auction, scooping up 17 of the 50 licenses made available by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB).
Retailers that won licenses, according to PLCB records, included:
- Sheetz Inc.: 17
- Giant Food Stores: 8
- Turkey Hill: 4
- Acorn Markets: 3
- CHR Corp./Rutter's Farm Stores: 1
- Giant Eagle: 1
- Pump N Pantry: 1
- Weis Markets: 1
In May, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill allowing gas stations and other channels of retail beyond liquor stores to sell beer. These approvals "freed the six-pack," as Wolf's campaign was titled, for certain gas stations with appropriate accommodations that can now sell six-packs of beer.
Since then, c-store retailers across the state have been reimaging their stores to meet the new requirements, which include separating the portion of the store that sells gasoline from an adjoining restaurant.
Remodeling for Beer
In Middletown, Pa., Rutter’s recently remodeled its Middletown location to incorporate beer, making it only the third Rutter’s convenience store in Pennsylvania to sell suds.
Each of the stores now include seating for at least 30 guests, as required by the new law, and a beer cave stocked with an assortment of craft, domestic and imported beers and ciders. Single-serve cans and bottles and six-packs are offered in the front cooler doors, and 12-packs are located inside the beer cave, where the temperature is kept at 29 degrees.
“Rutter’s is striving to get beer in as many of our stores, present and future locations, as possible,” said Robert Perkins, vice president of marketing for York, Pa.-based Rutter’s Farm Stores. “We are excited to be able to provide this offer for our loyal customers, giving the convenience they deserve.”
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