Beverages

How Rutter's Got Into the Spirits Business

Retailer moved seating area to accommodate chain's first liquor room
Room for spirits
Photograph courtesy of Rutter's

YORK, Pa. — How didRutter’s create an 800-square-foot spirits room in its 9,000-square-foot convenience store?

Rutter’s was granted a 10-year license from the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration that allows the retailer to sell spirits at its store in Inwood, W.Va., making it the chain's first store with this expanded offering. Rutter's is not allowed to sell spirits in its home state of Pennsylvania.   

Chris Hartman, director of fuels, forecourt and advertising with the York, Pa.-based chain, told CSP Daily News that the company built a wall around the store’s beer cave and moved a seating area to fit the liquor and meet West Virginia’s requirements.

And although the license meant a store remodel, it was an endeavor worth jumping into, Hartman said.  

“No. 1, it’s something the c-store customer [is looking for], and No. 2, it’s a learning experience, should anything change for our stores in Pennsylvania,” he said. “We thought it’d be something great so we took the opportunity to get into it, and here we are.”

To get the word out that Rutter’s is now in the spirits business, Hartman said the chain used social media, billboards, email lists and in-store and outside digital screens outside the store. The product mix is typically what a consumer would expect in a spirits store, with a mix of vodka, gin, whiskey and other favorites, he said.

“We’re just really excited to be able to get into the spirits business, and we look forward to serving our great customers with another item … We’re determined to do it better than everyone else,” said Hartman.

Rutter's store design focuses on sustainable construction, retail technology, restrooms and foodservice innovation. It operates 78 stores in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland and is No. 87 on CSP's 2020 Top 202 ranking of the largest c-store chains in the United States.

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