Few convenience-store chains have as many fans as Sheetz.
The 62-year-old family-owned chain has 460 stores in six states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. Sheetz has 1.2 million fans on Facebook and ranked 87th on Forbes' list of 100 Best Companies To Work For in 2014.
With its fresh food and specialty coffee, the chain has been stealing market share from fast-food chains like McDonald's.
We did some research to find out what makes Sheetz fans so loyal. Here's what we found.
1. The coffee
Sheetz has a full-service espresso and smoothie bar — Sheetz Bros. Coffeez — that's staffed by trained baristas. Specialty coffee drinks include lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas that can be made hot, frozen, or iced.
"Their Made-To-Order Espresso bar is actually comparable to Starbucks, but with half the price," writes one Yelp reviewer.
2. The food
Sheetz's lengthy made-to-order menu includes pizza, wings, sub sandwiches, pretzel melts, salads, and wraps.
The best value on the menu is Sheetz's two hot dogs for 99 cents, says Yahoo contributor Joe Capristo.
"If you like hot dogs, you probably won't find a better deal anywhere," Capristo writes. "For 99 cents you get two dogs loaded up with your choice of ketchup, mustard, mayo, onions, sauerkraut, and relish."
3. Cheap gas
Sheetz is praised for selling gas at cheaper prices than its competitors.
4. The touch-screen menus
Sheetz was one the first convenience stores to use touch-screen menus at its deli counters for customizing food orders. The first touch-screen menu was installed in the chain's Altoona, Pennsylvania, location in April 1993; they were installed in all stores by 1996. The system makes ordering food and drinks quick and easy.
5. Loyalty card perks
In addition to discounts on food and other merchandise, Sheetz's rewards program shaves up to 8 cents off every gallon of gas purchased. Rewards include buy-10-get-one-free deals for purchases of the store's "most popular items," such as coffee, fountain drinks, donuts, and sub sandwiches. And about once a month, Sheetz loads loyalty cards with a free promotional item.
Rewards are earned through the MySheetz Card or Sheetz Visa credit card.
6. Free ATMs
Sheetz doesn't charge for cash withdrawals.
7. The service and cleanliness
Sheetz fans rave about the chain's cleanliness and customer service.
"Sheetz [stores] are what every gas station should be. This place goes beyond convenience. Freshly prepared food, clean and convenient. I love this place!" one customer wrote in a Yelp review.
Another customer recently posted on the chain's Facebook wall that he was stranded at a Sheetz with several other drivers during a recent spate of storms in late April, and an employee began handing out free sandwiches.
"It's not often that I've seen or heard of somewhere doing this for anyone seeking shelter from a storm," Jason Closson wrote. "This one experience has made Sheetz an even greater place in my book and words can't describe how it feels knowing how much Sheetz employees care for their customers or people seeking shelter."
8. Breakfast at night
Sheetz places no time limits on its menu items. The chain will satisfy your cravings for breakfast Shmuffins, Shmiscuits, and Shmagels at all times of the day and night.
9. The hours
Sheetz is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As one Yelp reviewer wrote, "Cheapest gas prices ... combined with 24-hour service and proven to satisfy your [Made-To-Order] fixes every time. Really, why go anywhere else?"
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