Beverages

Sheetz Says 'Free My Beer'

Retailer starts petition for beer sales in Pennsylvania
ALTOONA, Pa. -- Sheetz Inc. has started the Free My Beer campaign, an online and paper petition effort to urge Pennsylvania lawmakers to allow beer sales at grocery and convenience stores, reported The Altoona Mirror. The company and others have tried traditional lawmaker lobbying to change the laws, but it has not gotten the General Assembly's attention, so president and CEO Stan Sheetz said that it is time to take the effort to the people, 70% of whom want expanded beer sales.

"The signups match the polls," he told the newspaper. "They'll say yes. This is not [image-nocss] rocket science. They just want to be able to buy beer in Pennsylvania where they want. Why is beer locked up like this? Nobody has a good reason for this."Click hereto view the Sheetz petition webpage.In addition to the petition drive, part of a larger effort promoted by the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, Sheetz is continuing its effort to obtain an eating place malt beverage license for its convenience restaurant in Altoona, chairman Steve Sheetz told the paper.

Ohio Springs Inc., a Sheetz subsidiary, lost its license to sell beer earlier this year after the state Supreme Court ruled that the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) improperly granted an eating place malt license for the corporation's convenience restaurant in Altoona, Pa. Sheetz has since reapplied for the license, saying it will allow on-premises beer consumption as all eating place malt licensees must do as a result of the Supreme Court's ruling.

Steve Sheetz said he and his brother, Bob, talked about selling beer in Pennsylvania c-stores 40 years ago when the company had only three stores and was opening a fourth. The company has grown to more than 350 locations in Pennsylvania and five states, including states where store beer sales are permitted.

Beer sales expansion to grocery and c-stores has been staunchly opposed by the Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania, which filed the lawsuit that stopped the sales at the c-restaurant, the report said.

"They're certainly free to do this," association Executive Secretary Mary Lou Hogan told the Mirror. "We have said and still say that it takes a legislative change to allow a supermarket or convenience store to sell beer in Pennsylvania. I think it was an end run around the Legislature through the PLCB in what the state Supreme Court called a loophole. Sheetz is simply acknowledging that."

The petitions will be sent to lawmakers, said the report.

(Click here for previous CSP Daily News coverage.)

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