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    Pennsylvania C-stores Create Buying Group

    New initiative will allow stores purchasing at least $100,000 of candy, groceries and tobacco to receive uniform member discounts.

    PITTSBURGH -- A number of small convenience chain owners, including Brian C. Weiss, owner of four convenience stores here, joined to form a cooperative for local convenience store owners to collectively negotiate lower prices for products, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

    The owners were motivated by rising fuel costs, the report stated.

    "Over the past five years, we've been noticing how things have been getting really, really pricey," Weiss told the paper. "Fuel charges that used to be a couple of dollars are now $9 or $10."

    In addition, rising fuel costs are impacting the cost of other goods, he said. "Fuel drives everything," Weiss said. "Because the cost of fuel is so high, the price of everything goes up."

    On a visit to wholesale retailer Sam's Club, Weiss' need for a co-op were confirmed when he saw a 24-count case of ready to drink iced tea selling for $11.

    "I'm paying right now, from a vendor, around $14.95 for a case," he told the paper. "I'm going to end up buying it at Sam's Club."

    As a result, Weiss created the Weiss Enterprises Retailers' Wholesale Co-operative Network. The co-op is available for owners who purchase at least $100,000 of candy, groceries, cigarettes and tobacco items annually. One benefit of membership is uniform discounts for members, and Weiss is hoping to reduce or eliminate fuel charges for members, he told the paper.

    Currently, approximately 15 or 16 stores are ready to join the group, Weiss said. "We would like to see every small business within a hundred mile radius of Pittsburgh," as members, he said.

    Long term goals for the co-op include negotiating discounts on health care and providing retirement investment plans, according to the group's Web site, www.weissenterprises-coop.com.

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