Sheetz … one of the few gas stations in North Carolina where the food doesn’t suck.


This is the second business round-up for the Rant, and in the first one we reported on a potential new Hobby Lobby, Bed Bath & Beyond and Dunkin Donuts in Sanford. These reports aren’t always concrete, but you can trust they’re based on more than just some dude at the Dairy Bar spouting off rumors that begin, “Ya know, I heard they’s gonna …”


Our first “ya know, I heard they’s gonna” deals with Sheetz, the Pennsylvania-based convenience store chain that has blown up in North Carolina in recent years. The chain opened its 50th North Carolina store back in 2013 in Wake Forest, and that same year, it broke ground on a new distribution center in Burlington.

Now, Sheetz may be eyeing Sanford for a future store. According to Construction Data News, a Sheetz project in Sanford was in the “planning” phase as early as 2010, and the project was recently updated on the site in October 2013. Last month, the company opened a new store in Elkin and announced a commitment of “several more locations across North Carolina this year.”

Their coming to Sanford would be interesting because Sheetz and Sanford-based The Pantry don’t necessarily get along. In 2005, The Pantry filed a lawsuit against the then-newcomer for selling gas in North Carolina at too cheap of a rate (25 cents below everyone else). Then again, that was almost nine years ago. Perhaps tensions have subsided.

As for a location, either U.S. 1 in Tramway (which has cleared out space for new businesses and would make a prime location for a Sheetz) or N.C. 87 near the Walmart shopping center — where a Zaxby’s is currently under construction — make the most sense. My hope is they clear out the former Checkered Flag Restaurant at U.S. 1 and U.S. 421 and build there … but that’s just my thoughts. 

One location that won’t be considered is where they’re tearing down the former Wendy’s at Horner Boulevard and Broadway Road, because …


… it’s rumored that’s being considered as a location for a future International House of Pancakes.

It makes sense if that’s true. IHOP is owned by DineEquity, the same company that owns Applebee’s, which has a Sanford location off of U.S. 1 and Spring Lane. The new IHOP would be positioned in a nice spot … on the outskirts of South Sanford, which is enjoying a boom in retail development. That location would neighbor the Brass Kettle, a locally owned restaurant that has a very underrated breakfast offering, so there’s a potential conflict there.

That’s it for now … if you have a business tip or a “I heard they’s gonna,” comment below or email me at

— Billy Liggett