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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Move over Wawa: Two Sheetz locations coming to the Cape Fear

The front entrance sign at a Sheetz location in Greensboro. The company has opened more than 100 stores in North Carolina. (Carl Blankenship/Port City Daily)

WILMINGTON — Another major player in the more-than-a-convenience-store game is eying the Wilmington area for expansion with at least two locations.

Timmons Group, a Raleigh-based engineering firm, has approached the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization about a traffic impact analysis to study a potential Sheetz location.

READ MORE: Wawas in the works: Popular convenience store proposed in the Cape Fear

A checklist for the scope of study submitted Aug. 22 describes a project titled “Sheetz (Wilmington),” at 2435 Independence Boulevard; it would be a 6,139-square-foot convenience store and gas station. The project is estimated to bring a daily trip generation of 7,880, with plans for the location to be built in 2024.

Produced on Sept. 9, the study scope requires analyzing the intersections of Independence with its east-west connector, north-south connector, U.S. Highway 117, Converse Drive, the intersection of 117 and Converse and the intersection of 117 and the north-south connector.

The city requires traffic studies for any project expected to generate more than 100 trips during peak hours between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

City of Wilmington spokesperson Dylan Lee said the city has not received a site plan for the project yet.

Sheetz public relations manager Nick Ruffin told Port City Daily it is “too early to share details around when the stores will open.” Yet Ruffin confirmed the company is planning the location on Independence, as well as a second location on Country Club Road in Hampstead.

Though Sheetz has opened more than 100 stores elsewhere in North Carolina, the two stores would mark the company’s entrance into the Cape Fear region. Sheetz’s arrival could run parallel to one of its competitors, Wawa, scheduled to open in Wilmington and Leland in 2024.

Sheetz and Wawa showdown

Both convenience store giants planted roots up north in Pennsylvania. Sheetz was founded by Bob Sheetz in 1952 and the franchise is still run by the family. 

Wawa, meanwhile, started as an iron foundry in 1803 and did not take shape as a food retailer until the first store opened in 1964.

The duel between the similar concepts has been chronicled in Pennsylvania media with both stores planning dozens of new locations in their home state and Wawa moving into areas previously dominated by Sheetz. 

Sheetz first arrived in North Carolina in 2003.

The company employs about 24,000 people and recorded $11.7 billion in revenue in 2022, according to Forbes. Wawa is significantly larger, with roughly 40,000 employees and raked in $14.9 billion in 2022.

While Wawa is revered for its hoagies and breakfast sandwiches, Sheetz offers a massive menu under its slogan, “MTO” — “Made To Order.”

The chain sells burgers, hot dogs, fries, subs, quesadillas, chicken, breakfast sandwiches, wraps, espresso drinks, pretzels, and desserts. It even offers appetizer sampler platters, including fried pickles and macaroni-and-cheese bites.

Many locations have refrigerated beer dens that stock a long list of limited runs of unusual Sheetz-branded beer, like an IPA brewed with hot dogs, a watermelon wheat ale and a milkshake IPA. 

Sheetz locations also include digital air pumps that allow motorists to fill their tires free of charge.

Both chains are building up in North Carolina. Wawa announced its entrance to the Old North State in March. Outside of the Port City, it has stores planned in Fayetteville, Elizabeth City and Kill Devil Hills. 

New Sheetz stores were recently announced in Boone, Carthage and Fayetteville. The desire to get the popular Pennsylvania-based business in Wilmington even spawned a Facebook page which began posting in 2019 and now has a modest following.

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