Sheetz Plans Aggressive Expansion in West Virginia

Sheetz Inc. is aggressively pursuing local markets in West Virginia with plans to open seven or eight new stores in the Huntington and Charleston metro areas. The Altoona, Pa. chain has yet to open a store in West Virginia south of Weston, said Errin Hensley, real estate project manager for Sheetz.

After 2010, Sheetz might expand beyond the seven or eight new stores, Hensley told The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette. A new, 5,000-square foot store is already under construction off in Barboursville. For 2009, the company also has commitments in the Hurricane, Milton and Huntington areas, he said.

The chain hopes to expand into Charleston within the next two years. "Finding a good location has been what’s difficult," he said. "[We're] having a really tough time in Charleston, as far as property wise. It’s pretty tough right now."

Sheetz has not yet made a commitment to build any stores in Charleston, the report said. "It’s still in the air. I would hope so," Hensley told the newspaper. "When we were first looking, the Charleston area is the area we really wanted to be in. I hope we do. We can’t make a commitment, but we’re trying."

Sheetz has 352 stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. Sheetz plans to add a made-to-order program to its specially made food and coffee, where customers can pick up pre-made food in a grab-and-go case, Hensley said.

The made-to-order program has been a staple of the convenience store. Customers use a touch-screen computer to pick out which ingredients they want on sandwiches, subs and other foods or in coffee and espresso drinks. "That’s really what sets us apart from all these other convenience stores is the made-to-order program," Hensley said.

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