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Plans firming for new stations

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on December 23, 2012 1:50 AM

The Goldsboro City Council is a few votes away from greenlighting the city's second Sheetz location since November as measures await the council in its first meeting of 2013 concerning a second store's satellite annexation, zoning and site plan.

The Planning Commission recommended all three items be approved for the property at the southeast corner of the U.S. 70 and N.C. 581 intersection in Rosewood at its Dec. 17 meeting, just as it did in October for a location across from Walmart on Spence Avenue.

And although it appears that the Pennsylvania-based convenience store planned for its plunge into the Wayne County market to be a double-dip, Sales Development Manager Jamie Gerhart said the two store developments synched up on their own.

"Believe it or not we've been looking in Goldsboro for probably over five years," he said.

Finding a location, buying property and getting preliminary plans together led to the delays, he said.

"The timing has got to be right for everybody. It's never as easy as saying 'We would like two stores in Goldsboro,'" he said. "This is somewhat ironic that the two stores got on the agenda so close together and doesn't reflect the ease of how that can be done."

He said his company had been working from early 2008, making focused efforts to open a store in Wayne County as part of a statewide investment into North Carolina.

"North Carolina is getting more than its share of the new stores from the company which is great for the state and the employees in the state," he said.

As far as why the company settled on Goldsboro, Gerhart said the city's location between Greenville and Johnston County along a major highway made it a great place for Sheetz to build its brand.

Because Sheetz hauls its own food, groceries and gasoline, he said it's best to build the brand regionally, rather than opening stores far away from others, pointing out that while customers have asked for a Wilmington location, opening stores much further east would present logistical problems.

"We'd much rather fill in the Triangle, the Triad and, loosely, the Wilson-Rocky Mount-Greenville area. It makes more sense for us to build in a more focused effort than to keep going further south or east."

The Goldsboro openings, he said, are part of a much more long-term plan for Sheetz' expansion into North Carolina.

Still, he said the company won't celebrate until the ribbon cuttings at the stores, since construction hasn't begun on either and permits and such are still pending for the Rosewood location.

"It's a progress," he said. "We're moving the ball downfield but we're not at the goal line yet."