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Wawa Food Markets

Wawa, Inc.
Private, owned by Wild Goose Holding Co.
Industry Convenience store
Gas station
Fast food
Founded 1964
Founder(s) Grahame Wood
Headquarters Chester Heights, Pennsylvania
Number of locations 595+[1]
Key people Chris Gheysens, CEO[2]
Products Coffee, sandwiches, prepared foods, gasoline, beverages, dairy products
Revenue Increase US$6.9 billion (2011)[3]
Net income Increase US$118 million (2011)[3]
Total assets Increase US$1.57 billion (2011)[3]
Employees 18,000

Wawa Inc. is a chain of convenience store/gas stations located along the East Coast of the United States. It operates in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Florida.[1] The company's corporate headquarters is located in the Wawa area of Chester Heights, Pennsylvania in Greater Philadelphia. As of 2008, Wawa is the largest convenience store chain in Greater Philadelphia, and it is also the third largest retailer of food in Greater Philadelphia, after ACME Markets and ShopRite.[4][5]


The Wawa business began in 1890. George Wood, a businessperson from New Jersey,[6] moved to Delaware County, Pennsylvania; it was here that he began the Wawa Dairy Farm. Wood imported cows from the British island of Guernsey, and bought 1,000 acres (400 ha) of land in the Chester Heights area; the corporate headquarters would later be renamed Wawa. Since pasteurization was not yet available, many children faced sickness from consuming raw milk. Wood arranged for doctors to certify his milk was sanitary and safe for consumption, which convinced many consumers to buy the product. The strategy worked, and allowed the Wawa dairy to grow. Demand for dairy products grew rapidly during the 1920s, and so did the company. Wawa began using the slogan, "Buy Health by the Bottle," and served customers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, delivering milk to customers' homes.

In the 1960s, however, consumers began buying milk in stores instead of using home delivery. Wawa started to open its own stores to adjust to these market changes.[6] On April 16, 1964, Grahame Wood opened the first Wawa Food Market at[7] 1212 MacDade Boulevard in Folsom, Pennsylvania, which is still in operation today.[5]

The Wawa Food Market stores were also part of a then-new trend in retailing, the convenience store. Open both earlier and later than traditional supermarkets, they carried other foods and beverages besides milk, as well as other items from the Wawa dairy.

As of 1989, Wawa Inc. and the Wood family together controlled about 725 acres of land, containing the corporate headquarters, the Wawa dairy farm, and J.T. Farms, within two municipalities in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The properties are located in Chester Heights and Middletown Township. Wawa Inc. owns 50 acres of land around "Red Roof," the corporate headquarters, 150 acres of land around the Wawa dairy, and the 225-acre J.T. Farms. The Wood family also owns 300 acres of estate property. Its extensive land holdings have led to criticism by some, including one journalist who called them "the closest thing to a feudal barony this side of duPont."[6]


The current CEO of Wawa is Chris Gheysens, who succeeded Howard Stoeckel in January 2013.[2][8] Eleuthère (Thère) du Pont has served as both the CFO and president, but is no longer associated with the company. Richard D. (Dick) Wood, Jr. is chairman of the board of directors. As of July 2009, many Wood family members were still active within the company. Although Wawa is a family-run business, the employees of Wawa also hold a relatively large percentage of stock. Most Wawas are open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

The chain's name comes from the site of the company's first milk plant and corporate headquarters in the Wawa, Pennsylvania area. The name of the town Wawa is in turn derived from the Ojibwe word for the Canada Goose (taken from "The Song of Hiawatha").[9] An image of a goose in flight serves as the Wawa corporate logo. It is said that the goose was chosen because the company employs the principles of teamwork, group consensus, and encouragement.

In 2011, Wawa ranked 47th on the Forbes Magazine list of the largest private companies.[10] As of July 2011, Wawa employs 18,000 in 600+ stores (210 offering gasoline) and had total revenues of $6.99 billion in 2011.[11]

The company's corporate headquarters is located in the Wawa area, along Baltimore Pike in Chester Heights. As of 2011, about 300 employees worked in the headquarters. The Borough of Chester Heights receives a majority of its local services tax from employees of Wawa.

The company's corporate headquarters is located in the Wawa area, along Baltimore Pike "Red Roof" at Wawa headquarters in Chester Heights, Pennsylvania.

Beginning in the 1940s, the dairy facility began selling excess parcels of land. In 1964, it sold about 40 acres to the Franklin Mint. Several years prior to 1989, the dairy sold 25 acres of land to a retirement complex, Granite Farms Estates. The process of selling excess land continued sporadically.

Wawa Inc. owns the 225-acre J.T. Farms, a separate farm property. As of 1989 Wawa Inc. leases it to Bill Faul, who maintained a herd of 100 Holstein cattle and paid $1,500 (currently $2778.12) per month. Wawa continued to own the farm due to symbolic reasons. It also kept heifers along Route 1 in a strip of land adjacent to the plant which did not produce milk; Fritz Schroeder, the vice president of Wawa Inc., said in 1989, "[w]e like them for the ambiance."[12]

Wawa, for the most part, covers parts of Pennsylvania not already served by fast-growing rival stores Sheetz and Kroger-owned Turkey Hill. Wawa is often compared to Sheetz due to their similar business models and Pennsylvania roots.[13]

Programs and promotions

Wawa was among the first convenience stores to implement self-serve computer touch-screen menus for food orders, in an attempt to improve order accuracy.

Wawa provides surcharge-free ATM transactions to all of its customers in five states, the result of a partnership with PNC Bank that began in 1985. Wawa implemented the program in stores in 1996. In 2010, Wawa surpassed 1 billion transactions under the PNC brand.[14]

In the late 1980s and through the 1990s, Wawa engaged in a scholarship sponsorship program that involved Irish students (mainly from UCC in Cork, Ireland) running a considerable number of stores on the Pennsylvania Main Line. This was a successful program that allowed the students to study for their MBAs from Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia.[15]

In 1994, Wawa opened a store in Center City, Philadelphia which sold food only, with no other grocery items.[16]

In 1996, Wawa debuted the "Super Wawa," larger stores that added gasoline pumps, replacing many of its older stores with this format. On October 21, 2010, Wawa began testing the sale of diesel fuel at 12 of its New Jersey locations due to an increasing number of cars using this fuel.[17]

In the summer of 2002, Wawa Dairy celebrated its 100th anniversary by having a week-long "thirst aid tour" where it delivered over 100,000 cold beverages to those who needed them most. Wawa partnered with local food banks in an attempt to raise awareness of the ongoing need for support.

In 2003, Wawa and McLane Co. reached a 30-year agreement to construct a distribution center in Carney's Point, NJ to handle the majority of Wawa's distribution needs.[18][19] The center began operation in May 2004.[19]

In 2005, Wawa partnered with JPMorgan Chase to offer a Visa credit card branded with the Wawa name. It ceased issuing new cards in December 2007, and the program was canceled in November 2010.[20]

Wawa moved into social media to connect with its customers, and in 2006, its "I Love Wawa" MySpace page had over 5,000 members. By summer 2013, its Facebook page had reached nearly 1.1 million "likes."[21]

In the summer of 2008, Wawa introduced "Hoagiefest", a reduced-price promotion on four selected varieties of its "Shorti" size hoagies. Each variety went on sale for a two-week period, over eight weeks. The Hoagiefest promotion was expanded in 2010 in both the number of types of hoagies included and the time length of the promotion.[21] Wawa has run the promotion every summer since 2008. The original Hoagiefest ad campaign was reminiscent of The Beatles' Yellow Submarine animated film, and used similar imagery; in 2012, this was abandoned, and the theme was changed to "Classic Summer."[22]

In 2010, Wawa became the primary sponsor of the Welcome America series of Independence Day celebrations in Philadelphia. The previous sponsor was Sunoco.

On June 30, 2010, 20 Wawa locations in Pennsylvania started a trial of selling Pennsylvania Lottery tickets from automated kiosks. On December 6, 2010, it announced that all 210 Pennsylvania Wawa locations would sell lottery tickets from kiosks by Spring 2011.[23]

Advertising slogans

1960s: "Wawa, to the American Indian meant Wild Goose. To you it means the finest in dairy products." (on their milk bottles)
1960s: "Mama, I want my Wawa."
1970s: "Fast, fresh shopping night and day."
1972: "People on the go — go to Wawa Food Markets"
1980s: "We do it just a little bit better: Wawa."
1990s: "One great taste after another"; "Mornin', Noon And Nite, Wawa Does It Right"
1990s: "Go to Wawa when you're hot, hot, hot."
2002–2005: "My choice. My Wawa."
2005–present: "Gottahava Wawa"


Wawa offers products found at most convenience chain marts such as chips, drinks and soda. Wawa also sells its own branded iced tea, soda, orange juice, and milk.

Key products include its variety of coffee, latte, and cappuccino flavors and sizes, and made-to-order hoagies. Wawa also offers a brand of hot breakfast products, most famous of which is the "Sizzli", and also a full deli with touch-screen ordering of sandwiches, hot sides, built-to-order drinks,[24] and deli meats.[25] Wawa sells beer in Florida, Maryland, and Virginia.

For a short time between 1994 and 1996, Wawa sold Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizzas and Taco Bell burritos.[16]

Wawa periodically introduces new items to its menu, such as the now-discontinued Ciabatta, a sandwich on a distinctive roll, and the breakfast hoagie. It sells seasonal coffee flavors like Pumpkin Spice in the fall, and a mint-flavored coffee around December. Wawa began selling bagged coffee in the millennium decade due to the popularity of its liquid coffee sold in-store.

Store locations

Wawa's New Jersey stores are concentrated in the southern part of the state.[26] Wawa's territory once stretched into North Jersey, New York and Connecticut, but in the late 1990s, the decision was made to abandon the New York metropolitan area and New England, as it was too competitive. The abandoned stores were re-branded when they were sold to Krauszer's (in Connecticut) and a variety of other convenience retailers, but most are still recognizable as they retain their distinctive "Wawa" design. The company continued to operate numerous stores in Central and South Jersey, and re-entered North Jersey in 2010, when Wawa opened a new store in Parsippany.[27] Wawa opened its 100th Super Wawa in New Jersey on October 12, 2012 in Woodbridge.[28] Wawa moved farther into North Jersey opening in Kearny on January 11, 2013 and Lodi on October 4, 2013. The company plans to open five Wawas a year in North Jersey for the next 10 to 12 years.[29]

In 2010, Wawa announced it would expand into Central Florida. On July 18, 2012, Wawa opened its first location in Orlando. The company plans to open 15 stores in the Orlando and Tampa Bay areas over a period of two years, and around 100 over a period of five years.[30]

As of April 2010, Wawa had 570 locations across Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.[31]

In some Jersey shore towns, Wawa designs its stores to match the aesthetic, and changes operating procedures to adapt to shore culture. In Cape May City, Wawa has a Victorian-themed store. In Wildwood, it has a 1950s-themed store.[32]

See also

Philadelphia portal
Pennsylvania portal
Companies portal
Food portal
  • Byrne Dairy


External links

  • ()
  • Hoagiefest website
  • Dairy 100th Exhibit
  • Interview with Howard about his Career
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