As all Pennsylvanians know, but what may confuse those from out of state, is the rule that all beer sales must be made at bars or distributors that hold a special license. No gas station or supermarket may stock or sell beer. As with all rules, there are loopholes and some businesses that see alcohol sales as a lucrative revenue stream are exploiting them
The loophole that exists is possible due to the changing form of the gas station and supermarket. These entities, looking to differentiate themselves and market themselves as upscale, are adding dinning options to their patrons. Gas stations such as Sheetz, Wawa, and Rutters are essentially fast food restaurants that also offer a fill up, while supermarkets like Wegmans and now some Weis and Giants want you to dine in at cafes before or after you shop for your bread and milk
These cafes are set up as separate entities, at least in the eyes of the law, despite being within the same structure as the rest of the consumer goods for sale. These entities can then apply for, and are sometimes awarded, licenses to sell beer. The flagship Sheetz in Altoona has a license to sell beer, and certain Giants and Weis Markets do as well. Now the first supermarket in Lancaster County approved to sell beer, a Weis in Lititz, began sales at noon yesterday (Thursday 3/06).
The beer is available for sale in either six packs or single bottles, can be consumed within the premises of the cafe, but must be purchased at an exclusive terminal within the cafe. Patrons are not allowed to purchase beer at any other terminal, and are not permitted to drink and shop (much to the chagrin of Weis I am sure).
Hopefully as more and more stores take advantage of this loophole, Pennsylvanians will become comfortable with the notion that buying a six pack of Victory along with some cheese and toilet paper is not as mind blowing as it may seem. For those interested in the novel experience, the Weis market is located on South Broad Street in Lititz and is open 24 hours a day, though sales of alcohol are restricted by law to M-Sa 8am-12am and Sunday 9am-11pm.
Special Thanks Jesse Clark.