The Shippensburg Manifesto

Sheetz stands up for customers' right to buy beer at c-stores in Pennsylvania

Sheetz beer (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Beverages)

ALTOONA, Pa. -- Sheetz Inc. has weighed in on the status of beer sales at the new Sheetz convenience store in Shippensburg, Pa.

On July 16, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) granted a legitimate liquor license to Sheetz, and the Shippensburg store began selling beer on July 25.

"This was very exciting for us and our customers," Ryan Sheetz, director of brand development, said. "Although that excitement proved to be short lived."

The Civic Club of Shippensburg filed an appeal with the Court of Common Pleas on August 6, which caused Sheetz to stop selling beer immediately.

"Our customers clearly want to be offered the right to buy beer at a convenience store, and we are committed to doing this responsibly and successfully," said Sheetz. "This is incredibly disappointing for us, and more importantly, our customers, who drive every decision we make. They've told us loud and clear that this is a convenience they want to be afforded in the state of Pennsylvania, and the fact that we can complete all of the due diligence and be granted a legitimate license, only to have somebody interject and challenge the ruling, is indicative of a broken system that needs greater reform at the state level."

"We are frustrated with this delay and hindrance in meeting our customers' needs," he said.

The Shippensburg location is the second Sheetz location in the state of Pennsylvania to operate an approved liquor license to sell beer. The company first started selling beer at an Altoona, Pa., c-store in 2010.

"Beer sales at our Altoona location are extremely positive and successful," Sheetz said. "That not only tells us that our customers want this convenience, but that we can also sell this age-restricted item responsibly."

Sheetz employees at these locations go through hours of additional training programs, like TIPS, to ensure that this product is sold in the right way.

The Shippensburg location has indoor seating for about 40 people and will feature an expanded menu. The beverage selection includes more than 90 different kinds of beer. Customers would be able to carry out up to two six-packs.

Sheetz is optimistic the appeal will be resolved quickly, the company said.

"We are in this for the long haul and will not give up on delivering change for our customers," Sheetz said.

With more than $6.6 billion in revenue for 2013 and more than 15,500 employees, Sheetz operates more than 473 locations throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina. It provides a menu of Made-To-Order (MTO) subs, sandwiches and salads, which are ordered through touch-screen order-point terminals. All Sheetz convenience restaurants are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Part of CSP's 2014 Convenience Top 101 retailers