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Last updated: August 05. 2014 11:51PM - 3329 Views
By Joe Sylvester jsylvester@civitasmedia.com



Sheetz on Route 309 in Wilkes-Barre is open in a small temporary building (behind gas pumps) while the main store, seen in background, is resconstructed as part of a remodeling project.
Sheetz on Route 309 in Wilkes-Barre is open in a small temporary building (behind gas pumps) while the main store, seen in background, is resconstructed as part of a remodeling project.
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WILKES-BARRE — Customers who’ve recently headed to the Sheetz convenience store on Business Route 309 have found a much smaller facility.


And the former store that once sold made-to-order sandwiches, coffee, soft drinks and some grocery items is just a shell of its former self, surrounded by a chain link fence. The inside has been gutted as workers reconstruct the structure.


The business still is selling gas from its 18 self-service pumps outside and some snacks and drinks from the small temporary brick structure that is serving as a store. But that’s just until the larger store is reconstructed.


Inside the larger building, hardhat-wearing workers from Mingle Contracting Inc. from Martinsburg, near Altoona, were busy. Outside, portable toilets served as temporary restrooms.


Just how Sheetz is rebuilding the store is unknown. Repeated calls to Sheetz corporate headquarters in Altoona were not returned last week and this week. The only clues are signs on the site stating, “WE ARE OPEN! BUILDING A BETTER STORE FOR YOU.”


A company spokeswoman said earlier this year Sheetz planned to expand some stores.


It’s part of national trend at convenience stores.


The Turkey Hill Minit Market in Dallas Township held a grand opening in January at its replacement 4,000-square-foot store with an expanded food service area and grocery offerings. Afterward, Sheetz public relations manager Monica Jones told The Times Leader that Sheetz was continuing to expand the size and selection of its products. She said two new stores that opened that month in North Carolina measured 6,400 to 7,000 square feet, more than twice the size of the chain’s older stores.


She said, though, Sheetz was not going into groceries as deeply as Turkey Hill, which has been owned since 1985 by grocery store chain Kroger Co. Rather, Sheetz was sticking with “fill-in products” such as milk and eggs.


The new Sheetz stores include seating areas, and Jones said the company was testing drive-throughs at several locations, as well as car washes.


Times Leader correspondent Ron Bartizek contributed to this report.


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