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ALTOONA, Pa. — Sheetz Inc. dropped a West Virginia-based pepperoni roll bakery in favor of an out-of-state provider, and customers have taken to social media to let the convenience store retailer know just how they feel.
Steve Rogers, owner of Rogers and Mazza bakery in Clarksburg, W.Va., told the Charleston-Gazette Mail he was blindsided when Sheetz told him it was dropping the distribution deal.
The bakery will lose distribution to 117 stores, about a fourth of its business. “It’s a lot of money,” Rogers said. “I’m going to have to eliminate several jobs.”
The decision has raised questions among Sheetz customers, too, who have taken to social media to vent their frustrations — many posting directly to Sheetz' Facebook page.
One customer wrote, “I pass through PA, MD, VA, and WV and have used you frequently… I will not shop there ever again as long as you don’t use the local bakers pepperoni rolls from WV. It may seem petty to you, but it has a big impact on their economy. I will do my part to impact yours. (And encourage others to do so as well.)”
Another wrote, “Why on earth would Sheetz chose an out of state pepperoni roll over true WV original??? If you don’t want to be boycotted, you’ll keep Rogers & Mazza’s rolls in your stores!!”
When asked about the decision, Sheetz said in a statement: “Currently, we have four vendor partners providing pepperoni rolls to our stores. Three of those vendor partners are West Virginia-based companies. To ensure consistency throughout the company, we have identified the need for one vendor to supply this product, and that evaluation is ongoing. We appreciate our customers’ passion around our offerings and thank them for their feedback during this evaluation process.”
The c-store retailer said it continually assesses all of its vendor partnerships to ensure the products offered are the best solutions for its customers and the company, and acknowledged the significant role West Virginia has played in the growth of the chain. Currently, the company employees 1,400 West Virginians through its 52 stores in the state, with more locations to open in 2015.
Sheetz would not provide the name of the out-of-state company that will now be filling the distribution.
A West Virginia staple, the pepperoni roll was invented in 1927 by Giuseppe "Joseph" Argiro at the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, W.Va. The rolls were a lunch option for the coal miners of north-central West Virginia in the first half of the 20th century.
Sheetz has invited Rogers and co-owner Michael Mazza to a meeting Thursday at its main distribution center in Claysburg, Pa. It's unclear what the meeting will entail, the news outlet reported.
Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz operates 500 convenience stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, West Virginia and North Carolina.