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Sheetz hopes to add six stores per year in state

Sheetz Inc. plans to continue its rapid expansion in the state, with company officials hoping to open six new West Virginia stores each year for the foreseeable future.

While the company is poised for rapid growth, Kanawha County is still not on its list for immediate expansion.

Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz already operates 44 "convenience restaurants" in the state. The family-owned company has 15,000 employees working at its 452 stores in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina.

In addition to offering traditional convenience store fare, the company also has its own popular line of Made-To-Order brand sandwiches and coffees.

Sheetz opened four new locations Putnam County over the last four years, two of which opened in the past few weeks.

Real estate manager David Hazelet said Friday the company already has two additional West Virginia sites under contract - one in Beckley and another in Ripley - with negotiations nearly complete for a handful of other locations.

"We have about five sites that we are on the verge of signing but haven't quite made it yet," Hazelet said.

While all five sites are located in towns along the Interstates 77 and 79 corridors, he said none of them are in Kanawha County.

"Unfortunately no, and God I wish there was," Hazelet said. "I wish we had one in Kanawha."

The biggest hurdle for locating a new store, particularly in Kanawha County, is the lack of flat, easily accessible land.

In addition to needing space for multiple gas pumps, each store also needs room for one or two drive-thrus, indoor and outdoor seating areas and indoor kitchen space.

"Our average store is up to 6,700 square feet now," Hazelet said.

However, Hazelet said that the publicity surrounding Sheetz's aggressive expansion throughout the state has led to more people calling the company to offer up potential sites for consideration.

"It's a big state and we think there's a lot of opportunity there yet," Hazelet said. "We would like to get enough land lined up so we could schedule a half dozen new store openings a year in West Virginia.

"We think we can do that within due time," he said.

The next location the company plans to build is the new location at the intersection of Robert C. Byrd Drive and Neville Street in Beckley. That location will have inside and outside dining, though it won't have a drive thru.

It will feature 48 parking spots and 12 gas pumps.

Hazelet said the company would have liked to being construction on it this year, but had to delay the start of construction to next spring.

"There just wasn't enough time to build that project this summer and have it complete by winter," he said.

The location will be the fourth Sheetz in the Beckley area once it opens next summer.

Hazelet said construction at the Ripley location wouldn't begin until sometime in the spring or summer of 2015, as the company first needs to complete all necessary permitting. 

 "The Ripley site just got signed Monday," he said. "We usually allow a full year after a signature to allow for construction."

That Sheetz will be built at the current location of the McCoy's Inn, just off I-77 in Ripley. The company will first need to demolish the existing hotel prior to building the new store.

The Ripley location will feature 16 gas pumps, inside and outside dining and a drive thru for food. 

The company is also working to sign a second site in Jackson County, as part of the five additional locations Hazelet said the company was currently negotiating to secure.

He said the company would continue to work to secure additional sites for its West Virginia expansion.

"We know where we want to be and we're working diligently on that," Hazelet said. 

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.


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