Sheetz Looking to Expand Grocery Concept (Video)

C-store chain opening first grocery store, minus fuel, at WSU; mulling more

Louie Sheetz (CSP Daily News Convenience Store Petroleum)

Terri Cutright, executive director of Main Street Morgantown; Frank Scafella, director of Sunnyside UP; Louie Sheetz, executive marketing advisor of Sheetz; Ron Justice, government relations specialist at WVU; David Martinelli, co-owner of Paradigm Development Group; and Narvel Weese, vice president of administration and finance at WVU. (Photo: Greg Ellis)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Convenience store retailer Sheetz Inc. announced plans in March to open a "first-of-its-kind" grocery store location at University Place, a new student apartment and retail complex under construction at West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown, W.Va. The company may expand the concept to other college towns.

The housing community and market are set to open in fall 2014. The 15,000 square-foot restaurant and grocery store, which will be open to nonstudents, will be built on the ground floor of University Place in Sunnyside. It will not offer fuel.

The new-concept Sheetz store will serve as the first major retailer with grocery offerings in the Downtown Morgantown area in many years, and it will be the first for the Sheetz brand--triple the size of a typical Sheetz store with indoor and outdoor seating for more than 100 people.

While WVU will be home to the first Sheetz grocery store, the company is looking to expand to other college town locations, such as University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania State University, executive marketing advisor and company board member Louie Sheetz told the school's newspaper, The Daily Athenaeum (embedded video courtesy of The DP).

"This is great evidence of a pioneering spirit in Sheetz. ... This is the first Sheetz to open without gasoline," he said. "This will be the first we develop with a full-line grocery. When we open those doors, we're never going to lock those doors. We don't care what you want to eat or when you want to eat, we'll have it for you whenever you want it."

He added, "This is a very special kind of Sheetz experience, and we're thrilled to be at the University Place location serving WVU students and the Morgantown community. Students can expect all the same great things that they already love about Sheetz, including our Made-to-Order (MTO) quality foods, and now so much more."

The store will feature fresh food options like Sheetz signature Made-To-Order (MTO) subs and sandwiches, M-T-Go! prepared foods, Shweetz Bakery and Sheetz Bros. Coffeez, a full-service espresso and smoothie bar staffed by fully trained baristas where customers can order handmade specialty drinks. Additionally, the market will offer a wide variety of traditional grocery items so students and neighborhood residents no longer have to leave the downtown area for groceries.

Set for completion in August, the 950-bed University Place will offer two-, three- and four-bedroom student apartments and townhomes, as well as a full range of amenities, including a fitness center, study rooms and ground floor retail space featuring the new Sheetz and other retailers.

"This is an ideal location for the new concept Sheetz--right in the heart of this modern student apartment complex that's within a few short blocks from the Downtown Campus as well as neighborhoods and transportation," said Dean of Students Corey Farris. "To live and shop here is going to be phenomenal for our student residents and for this reinvigorated neighborhood."

Farris said the new concept grocery should attract additional development, further enhancing this "once-blighted" area.

Paradigm Development and WVU, the groups involved in the public-private partnership to bring University Place to life, unveiled the concept to WVU students, employees and the local community.

"We are thrilled to have Sheetz as the anchor tenant at University Place student apartments," said Ryan Lynch, partner with Paradigm Development Group. "This new grocery concept fills a void in the heart of campus and in the Downtown Morgantown area. Not only will students enjoy a modern, convenient lifestyle at University Place, but now they will be able to shop, eat and socialize there. We look forward to bringing new, vibrant life to Sunnyside with this project."

Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz operates approximately 470 locations throughout Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and West Virginia.

Part of CSP's 2014 Convenience Top 101 retailers