ELIZABETH, Pa. -- Giant Eagle Inc. on Monday opened a new GetGo convenience store here, its first in the state to offer beer. The move could possibly ruffle some legal feathers, though.
According to a report by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the GetGo store, located at 1000 Hayden Boulevard in Elizabeth, Forward Township, will offer a walk-in beer cave and more than 100 domestic, craft and imported beers. The store will be open seven days a week and sell gas from a separate location across from the store.
The Malt Beverage Distributors Association (MBDA), a Pennsylvania trade group, may challenge Giant Eagle's move to offer beer. The association currently has a case pending in the state Supreme Court to prevent Sheetz Inc. from selling beer at a second location. Sheetz currently offers beer in an Altoona, Pa., store and is looking to expand the offering to a second location in Shippensburg, Pa.
“We've contested that on the basis that someone selling liquid fuel is prohibited under state law from selling beer from the same location,” Mark Tanczos, president of the MBDA, told the news outlet. “Somebody like Sheetz or GetGo would have to return their license.”
After a five-year legal battle, Sheetz won the right to sell beer at its Altoona store, which was built to comply with state law that requires beer to be sold in an area separate from the rest of the store, the news outlet reported.
Meanwhile, 38 of Giant Eagle's supermarkets in Pennsylvania are licensed to sell beer and have restaurant areas where customers can purchase and take home up to two six packs of beer or consume two beers with a meal bought in the store, in accordance with the law.
“Customers in other areas where we have GetGo stores have long appreciated the additional convenience of being able to purchase beer,” Giant Eagle spokesman Daniel Donovan said. “While we have an interest in introducing beer at future Pennsylvania GetGo locations, there are currently no confirmed plans to do so.”
According to a report by Pittsburgh's Action 4 News, customers who visited the store Monday said it will be good for the local economy.
"We had a public hearing and we had probably 30 to 40 citizens show up. Everybody expressed their opinion and no one was against it," Tom DeRosa, chairman of the township supervisors, told Action 4 News.
Thus far, Pennsylvania has issued approximately 200 licenses that allow grocery stores, mini marts or gas stations to sell beer, Stacy Kriedeman, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, told the Tribune. However, she could not confirm how many are convenience stores connected to gas stations.
A liquor privatization bill that would allow gas stations to sell beer was approved by the state House last year after Gov. Tom Corbett introduced a plan that would allow distributors to sell beer in packages smaller than a case and offer them the opportunity to sell wine and liquor. Grocery stores would be able to sell six bottles of wine and up to a 12-pack of beer, while convenience stores would be able to sell one six-pack.
Giant Eagle operates 227 supermarkets and 190 GetGo gas stations and convenience stores in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland. Ninety-one of its GetGo stores are located in Pennsylvania.