Pennsylvania: Supreme Court to take up Sheetz beer sales debate
Source: The Sentinel
Mar 4, 2016
What is a location?
The question itself seems simple enough. A location, by definition, is “a position or site occupied or available for occupancy or marked by some distinguishing feature,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
But can a single property, operating under the same business name, be considered two separate locations as a matter of law?
That is one of the main questions the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will tackle having agreed in February to take up a challenge to Sheetz selling beer at the same property in Shippensburg, 359 E. King St., where it sells gasoline.
Pennsylvania law bars the sale of gasoline and alcohol at the same location, but that has not stopped Sheetz from getting approval from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to sell both in Shippensburg.
The PLCB allowed a liquor license transfer to Sheetz in July 2014.
The decision was challenged shortly after by the Shippensburg Civic Club and the store had to stop selling beer for a few months.
The locks came off the cooler doors in October 2014 after a Cumberland County judge upheld the PLCB’s decision.
The latest challenge comes from two Shippensburg area beer distributors – Gabler’s Beverage Distributors and PKD Inc – and the Malt Beverage Distributors Association.
The three groups lost a petition for review of the PLCB decision in July in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.
During those proceedings John Campbell, regional director of operations for Sheetz Inc., testified that the restaurant portion of the business that sells alcohol and convenience store operate separately, according to court records.
Campbell said that gas can only be purchased at the pumps, which are about 80 feet away from the convenience store, via credit card and not inside the store, court records show.
He told the court that the restaurant portion has its own entrance and seating for up to 37 people and other Sheetz employees testified that the two portions of the business operate under separate lease agreements, according to court records.
Sheetz has also been selling beer at its Altoona location since 2010.
No date has been set for the Supreme Court to hear the case and it is not currently listed on the argument for March or April.