Sheetz having trouble gaining traction in Detroit

Gas stations & convenience stores (AM/PM, 7-Eleven, etc.)
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Sheetz having trouble gaining traction in Detroit

Post by Romr123 »

https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/ ... 525972007/

Fraser and Madison Heights are solidly middle class postwar second ring suburbs. Madison Heights (12 Mile Road) is bisected by I-75, Fraser does not have an interstate.

Interesting that the outer collar suburbs (Chesterfield Twp--23 Mile Road-never has met a development it didn't like) seem to be welcoming of Sheetz...
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Re: Sheetz having trouble gaining traction in Detroit

Post by storewanderer »

They may know it is a good idea to not go where you aren't wanted... so pulling back from one site.. let's see if they continue with other sites... QuikTrip is a much better operator. Sheetz is definitely a top tier operator but they're no QuikTrip. Or KwikTrip.
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Re: Sheetz having trouble gaining traction in Detroit

Post by Brian Lutz »

Sheetz has quite a few locations around here, but seems to have a pretty bad reputation overall. Aside from the $1.776 per gallon gas promo they did on the 4th of July last year (and even that got a decent amount of bad press for causing major traffic jams) the only time you ever hear about one is when they're involved in some sort of crime (with the most recent incident being a Greensboro police officer shot and killed by someone caught stealing $75 worth of beer.) Given the apparent "gentlemen's agreement" between Sheetz and QuikTrip to not overlap territories it seems we won't be getting any competition anytime soon, but I suspect QuikTrip would put them out of business pretty quickly if they moved in.
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Re: Sheetz having trouble gaining traction in Detroit

Post by mjhale »

Sheetz seems to be in maximum expansion mode right now. As storewanderer said, they are a top tier operator but they are not alone anymore as they expand further from their Western PA base. They are also experiencing increased competition in their home areas as Wawa moves into areas that were previously Sheetz only and other operators like Rutters and Royal Farms are building larger stores with made to order food options like Sheetz offers. Sheetz has also enjoyed weak C-Store competition outside of Wawa in the northeast which makes them look far better than anything else out there and it easier for them to gain a foot hold in a new area.

I have been going to Sheetz in one way or another since 1992 when I first discovered them while in college in PA. Between price increases and a general decline in quality especially in the past 5 years or so, my Sheetz visits have gone down significantly. Even fuel isn't as competitively priced at the Sheetz locations near me versus other gas stations that are closer to local warehouse club locations. In a way I think Sheetz might be taking on some traits of Walmart - people are loyal to them in their home area and the original couple of waves of expansion. However, as they go further astray, people have their local favorite that they want to continue to shop at plus they don't want the big guy steamroller coming in and putting everyone else out of business. Sheetz is going to have to adapt all around to get into communities that may not be warm to them and to compete against equal or better operators that they have never experienced before.
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Re: Sheetz having trouble gaining traction in Detroit

Post by storewanderer »

Sheetz, and Maverik, seem to be operating under a "grow or die" mindset. We will see how things work out for both chains.

Sheetz runs a very efficient operation. They may not be as pretty as Wawa, but they have better products in my opinion and are way more efficient.
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Re: Sheetz having trouble gaining traction in Detroit

Post by buckguy »

At least some of the newer ones seem to be moving toward a sit down trade with a wider menu. This puts them up against a broader range of competitors. It also leads to some awkward layouts if they don’t have a large piece of property, with the check out being away from the gas station part of the store. I’ve also noticed that the rest rooms aren’t as well kept as in the past. As more c-stores essentially stop being c-stores, they’ll need to do a little better than this to compete.
Last edited by buckguy on February 19th, 2024, 6:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sheetz having trouble gaining traction in Detroit

Post by mjhale »

The newest Sheetz prototype has a large seating area immediately as you enter the main doors. There is a bank of ordering kiosks to the right with the kitchen area visible as you enter. I didn't think about it until buckguy mentioned it, but the layout of the store strongly encourages interacting with the restaurant/MTO food section of the store as opposed to the traditional C-Store section. That is off to the right and while still visible, it seems downplayed, as even the cash registers and self-checkout are in the C-Store section as opposed to being right at the main entrance like in a more traditional store layout. These new Sheetz stores are very nice and, in my opinion, superior to the newest Wawa stores I have visited. Sheetz has a broader variety of food options but (again) in my opinion I don't think the quality and consistency across the board is as good as I have experienced at Wawa. If Sheetz is headed more towards a restaurant with a C-Store attached, the food quality and value is going to have to be increased. When a burger, soda and fries are approaching or in the same price range as a fast casual, I'm not sure I can pick Sheetz unless time is the critical factor. In new markets Sheetz won't have to overcome the buying food at a gas station stigma, but as Sheetz rebuilds its stores outside its core areas, there is still the comment of why are you buying food at a gas station??
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Re: Sheetz having trouble gaining traction in Detroit

Post by mbz321 »

mjhale wrote: February 9th, 2024, 5:05 pm
I have been going to Sheetz in one way or another since 1992 when I first discovered them while in college in PA. Between price increases and a general decline in quality especially in the past 5 years or so, my Sheetz visits have gone down significantly. Even fuel isn't as competitively priced at the Sheetz locations near me versus other gas stations that are closer to local warehouse club locations. In a way I think Sheetz might be taking on some traits of Walmart - people are loyal to them in their home area and the original couple of waves of expansion. However, as they go further astray, people have their local favorite that they want to continue to shop at plus they don't want the big guy steamroller coming in and putting everyone else out of business. Sheetz is going to have to adapt all around to get into communities that may not be warm to them and to compete against equal or better operators that they have never experienced before.
Not much different than Wawa these days, either. While they have gained some traction in new markets, they are stretching themselves thin and straying further from their roots. I think they are actively developing sites in Alabama, one of the Carolinas, and I think Kentucky? Food quality has declined quite a bit and they keep trying to expand the menu to things nobody wants. They started selling pizza several months ago and I don't think it is going well at all. I tastes 'okay' but it isn't priced at all like a convenience store pizza. They have had $5 off promos running and I think I'd still rather get Domino's :mrgreen: Even their coffee, something they have been known for, seems to becoming very mid. Gasoline prices are hit or miss and rarely are they the cheapest. It's funny as people that live in newer markets tend to associate Wawa as a 'gas station' first, as where people in their home turf still see it as a Food Market with gas pumps (besides the handfuls of legacy locations still open).
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Re: Sheetz having trouble gaining traction in Detroit

Post by storewanderer »

Sheetz sounds like it actually has a lot of the same challenges as Maverik... but Sheetz sells a lot of prepared food. Maverik doesn't seem to sell much at a lot of locations and the program seems lackluster even at the locations that sell quite a bit. The quality is so variable I've given up on Maverik's prepared foods but if it is good, it is actually really really good. But it could also be inedible. Not worth the risk. Tacos, pizza, etc.

Sheetz used to come off as a cheaper, faster Subway with better hours of operation. You weren't there because it was great quality, you were there because it was fast, cheap, easy, and available at the right time.
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Re: Sheetz having trouble gaining traction in Detroit

Post by Romr123 »

I've got very limited experience with Sheetz---was in Lorain County, Ohio a year ago December when a Sheetz opened up at Rt 58 and 2 in Amherst...they were running gas price promotions, and noticed they had multiple e-XX grades of gasoline (which we're not familiar with in Michigan). Gas prices were good and the place was clean---about all the impressions I have.

Michigan is not a c-store heaven by any means (Meijer or Kroger are about as good as it gets reliably, particularly since Meijer runs in-store pricing out at the gas stations----Speedway can be quite good or dreadful....Quality Dairy in Lansing also is very variable (though they tend toward the Wisconsin KwikStop/KwikStar concept with scooped ice cream and a dairy behind them). SuperAmerica/Holiday in the UP is pretty good.
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