Reporting Jon Delano
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s the newest Sheetz to open in this region — in Bethel Park — and like most Sheetz stores, it offers gasoline, meals to order, lots of snack foods and plenty of drinks.
But one thing is missing, says Sheetz.
“We do business in Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina — in all of those states, just about every one of our stores — we’ve got 190 stores that sell beer and wine every day of the week, and we do a great job with it,” said Louie Sheetz.
Louie Sheetz, one of the brothers who owns the family business, says customers in those states really like to buy beer.
“Our customers love that convenience to be able to stop on the way home or to be able to stop on the way to an event and pick up a six-pack or a case,” Sheetz told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.
It’s called the Soda Cave now, but Sheetz would like nothing more than to rename it the Beer Cave, just like they have in other states.
But the door to selling beer can not be opened until the legislature acts.
So Sheetz has launched a grassroots lobbying campaign with stickers, pins and a website called Free My Beer.
“Customers can take a three-by-three tear pad home, jump on line to the www.freemybeer.com website, or they can quickly find the senator or representative in their area, and shoot off a note to them, a letter to them, and say, hey, I would love to see beer in a convenience store, a grocery store,” he said.
“I don’t have a problem with it. If people want to buy it, why not sell it, right?” says Carrie Hartnett of Castle Shannon.
“I see no harm in selling beer here in Sheetz. I think it would be a good idea,” adds Matt McKee of Bethel Park.
But one customer sees no reason to change, citing Florida convenience stores.
“They sell beer inside all their stores and their prices are way higher than ours — on beer, that’s for sure,” adds Mike Ducker of Baldwin.
And it’s a hard sell with some legislators.
“I don’t want to see a proliferation of alcohol and beer at A-plus on Highland Avenue across from Obama High School. That’s not what I want to see,” said PA Sen. Jim Ferlo at a recent Senate hearing.
But Sheetz says this is a scare tactic.
“Grocers and convenience stores sell age-restricted products today — they sell tobacco — and it’s the same process,” notes Sheetz.