Pittsburghers are passionate about Sheetz. On a road trip -- or on any drive, really -- this is where the locals stop for fuel, food, and clean bathrooms.
But there’s a lot more about the brand than meets the eye. These are the 10 facts about Sheetz that even #SheetzFreakz -- the nickname for the most ardent fans -- may not know.
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The company is family-owned and operated.
Ryan Sheetz, the company’s director of brand strategy, said his uncle Bob started the business in 1952 in Altoona. In the decades since, it has remained family-owned and operated. It’s not a franchise.
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Before it was Sheetz, it was a dairy.
The business started out as a dairy wholesaler, then began operating dairy stores in the Altoona area selling milk, cheese, meats, and newspapers. Around 1973, the company began selling gasoline, Sheetz said.
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Sheetz’ reach is bigger than Pittsburgh.
More than 500 stores span Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. About 30 new Sheetz stores open annually.
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Pioneering touch-screen monitors in the 1990s.
“We were the first to develop touch-screen monitors,” Sheetz said.
In the late 1980s, a Sheetz family member noticed touch-screen technology at a trade show. By 1993, Sheetz debuted touch-screen monitors -- a first for the convenience store and restaurant industry, which had previously relied on and paper-and-pencil ordering system.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Sheetz makes a point to connect with its community by sponsoring youth sports and providing donations to other charitable organizations, Sheetz said.
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A focus on sustainability.
Sheetz stores use LED lighting, low-flow toilets, double-sided printer paper, and recycling. Electric vehicle charging stations are offered at many stores in Pennsylvania. Leftover ready-to-eat food items are donated to food banks.
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Respect for Wawa.
In Pennsylvania, there’s a major rivalry between Sheetz in western Pennsylvania and Wawa in eastern Pennsylvania. And though they are fierce competitors, the two maintain “a very respectful relationship,” Sheetz said.
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More than a typical drive-through.
At the Sheetz drive-through, customers can order food -- and pick up milk, bread, or anything else needed in a hurry.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Super Sheetz is a big deal.
For Sheetz fans -- they happily go by the name “Sheetz Freakz” -- the Super Sheetz is a special place. Double the size of a regular store, this store occupies about 10,000 square feet along 17th Street in Altoona -- “Sheetz taken to the next level,” Sheetz said. This flagship location often serves as the guinea pig to test out new menu items. It even sells beer, which is a rare feat in Pennsylvania.
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“Restaurant-quality food” at a convenience store.
The large menu at Sheetz is rare among other gas station chains. “You can get restaurant-quality food at a gas station,” Sheetz said. Executive Chef Dan Coffin is constantly developing new food items. He has has a degree in culinary nutrition from Johnson & Wales University and is Marine Corps veteran who fed America’s troops during his service.