Let’s face it, humans are creatures of habit.

We cherish routine and structure and patterns. Not only do we want what we want, we want it when we want it.

We avoid change. We abhor unpredictability. We shun inconvenience.
Here’s some good, breaking news — Sheetz will reopen in about a month. Soon, we will be able to return to our normal COVID-19 lives.

“The goal of Sheetz is to be the ultimate one-stop shop,” said Nick Ruffner, Sheetz’s Public Relations Manager. “We want to make sure people can do everything they need to do, at Sheetz. It’s a busy location. It serves so many people in the community. I’m sure people are anxious for it to reopen, and we’re anxious for it to reopen.”

The Lebanon Sheetz store, located at the intersection of Rocherty and Quentin Roads in North Cornwall Township, is scheduled to reopen in the middle of February, following a three-month renovation/upgrade project. The Lebanon store, or Store #370, was closed in mid-November and there has been significant construction activity there — both outside and inside — since.

Store #370 has been closed since November. (Falk)

Read More: Sheetz in North Cornwall Township closed until February for renovations

Store #370’s temporary closure has left many loyal Sheetz customers scrambling for fuel, food and morning beverage alternatives.

“It’s a constant re-evaluation for us,” said Ruffner. “It’s just something that Sheetz does. Investing in stores is a major priority for us. Sheetz is very active in making sure our stores are updated. It just naturally enhances the customer experience and makes our employees’ jobs easier.”

In the middle of next month, when the Lebanon Sheetz store does reopen, customers will find many of the same products and features — things like made-to-order food and drinks, snacks, and beer and wine — that have made Sheetz famous, just upgraded and enhanced. The configuration of the inside of the Lebanon store will look pretty much the same, and Sheetz will continue to offer 16 gas pumps outside.

Read More: Sheetz “soda cave” bet pays off in Lebanon with Palmyra liquor license transfer

The Lebanon Sheetz store employs about 35 mostly local residents. Ruffner said that during the renovation, all of the employees of the Lebanon store were offered interim positions, and that most are expected to return to Store #370 when it reopens.

“When the store reopens customers might notice some new features,” said Ruffner. “I can safely say that the renovations will enhance the customer experience. I think it will be similar to the ones they may have experienced if they visited any new stores in the area.”

The interior of the newly renovated Sheetz. (Falk)
Most of the 35 employees are expected to return to work at Sheetz when it reopens. (Falk)

Opened in June of 2005, the Lebanon Sheetz store was strategically located at the intersection of Rocherty and Quentin Roads to provide services for local customers and travelers entering and exiting Lebanon County, to and from Lancaster County and the Lebanon Exit 266 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The work currently being performed at the Lebanon Sheetz store could be characterized more as regularly scheduled maintenance than repairing wear and tear caused by traffic flow.

“Because we’re a family-owned and operated company, we’re committed to the local communities,” said Ruffner. “Many of our stores donate unused food to local food banks. The store teams are family and in turn, they’re a family to the communities they serve.”

The Lebanon #370 store is one of two Sheetz locations in Lebanon County. The other is situated at 811 East Main Street in Palmyra. Ruffner said that there are no short-term plans to build any more Sheetz locations in Lebanon County.

Except for renovations, Sheetz stores never close. They’re open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Store #370’s location has made it popular with commuters on Route 72. (Falk)

“I think the key to the success of the franchise is the strategy of putting the Sheetz of today out of business,” said Ruffner. “The Sheetz family is committed to innovation and new technology. When we say ‘putting the Sheetz of today out of business’ it represents that constant commitment.”

The Lebanon and Palmyra Sheetz stores are two of the 614 stores Sheetz operates in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland, and they represent two of the 285 Sheetz stores in Pennsylvania. Ruffner said that Sheetz is adding about 30 stores every year.

“It started as a deli store, then evolved into gas,” said Ruffner. “The made-to-order concept was created in 1986, and the first touch-screen ordering system was implemented in the mid 1990s. That has kind of become a convenience store standard. But we were the first to do it. It allows customers to customize their sandwiches.”

More work done at the Sheetz on Rocherty and Quentin Roads. (Falk)

Founded by Bob Sheetz in 1952, the Sheetz franchise is headquartered in Altoona, the home of the original Sheetz store. The current ownership of the franchise represents the third generation of the Sheetz family.

“I think the message to the people in Lebanon is simple: We’re committed to the community,” said Ruffner. “The current rebuild is just what we do.”

The evolution of the convenience store, Sheetz has become an integral part of the world in which we live.

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Jeff Falk is a seasoned journalist based in Lebanon, PA. He's a graduate of Cedar Crest High School, Penn State University, and a lifelong resident of Lebanon, born and raised. Currently, he is a feature writer for Engle Publishing in Lancaster, the editor of LebCoSports.com, sports director at WLBR...


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