Pa. Liquor Board Puts Sheetz Request on Hold
SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. -- Sheetz Inc.'s request to sell alcohol at its convenience store here reached a standstill this week as the State Liquor Control Board postponed a vote on the measure.
According to a report by PennLive.com, Sheetz has been seeking approval to sell beer at the store for more than two years and faced opposition from trade groups and at least one high-ranking public official.
If the board grants Sheetz approval to sell beer, the store will follow state regulations that require cafe seating and separate cash registers for the purchase of beer. The state's requirements have led Sheetz to construct its store in two sections -- one side a convenience store and the other a restaurant with beer sales.
Gary Zimmerman, Sheetz' legal counsel, told the news outlet that Sheetz selected the Shippensburg store for beer sales because it was building a new store and a license was available. Pennsylvania's malt beverage license allows carry-out sales of beer in six-packs of 12-ounce or 16-ounce bottles, and 12-packs of 10-ounce, 12-ounce or 16-ounce bottles.
Sheetz acquired its license from Ruby Tuesday in Mechanicsburg and the Shippensburg Borough Council approved the transfer nearly two years ago. However, at the time, Borough Police Chief Fred Scott stated publicly that he opposed the sale of beer at Sheetz because of the location's lack of in-store security, as well as its proximity to Shippensburg University, the news outlet reported.
The Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania (MBDA) also opposes Sheetz selling beer at its store and argues that the c-store retailer violates the state Liquor Code, which prohibits the sale of alcohol at locations with liquid fuel.
"When you look at the language for liquid fuels, there is no leeway or ability for the board to make judgment. It's clear they should not," MBDA President Mark Tanzcos told the news outlet.
Tanzcos recently spoke out against a similar move by Giant Eagle Inc., which on Monday opened a GetGo c-store that sells beer -- its first in the state to do so -- in Elizabeth, Pa.
Like the new GetGo location, the Shippensburg Sheetz will offer a wide range of beer products, from domestics and imports to craft beers. Customers who wish to purchase beer will be carded and have to swipe their driver's licenses through the cash registers for validation.
"If they swipe the ID and the person is not of age or it's not valid, you cannot continue with the transaction," Zimmerman noted.
Sheetz has been very vocal in its efforts to sell malt beverages at its stores, including a five-year legal battle for the right to sell beer at its Altoona, Pa., store. Last year, the chain launched a "Free My Beer" campaign while Gov. Tom Corbett introduced legislation for liquor privatization.
Zimmerman told PennLive.com that Sheetz is now looking to possibly add beer sales at a second location in Altoona.