Wawa Hits the Big 5-0

Celebrates with book release, in-store festivities, Wawa Day in Philly

Wawa history as dairy (CSP Daily News / Convenience Store Petroleum)

Editor's Note: As the Wawa convenience store chain celebrates the 50th anniversary of opening its first store, CSP Daily News launches "A Week of Wawa," featuring highlights of the chain's history, historic slideshows and insider video.

FOLSOM, Pa. -- Fifty years ago, Wawa Inc. opened its very first store at 1212 MacDade Blvd. in Folsom, Pa. In honor of this tremendous milestone, Wawa is kicking off its 50th anniversary in retail with two in-store celebrations.

The first takes place at Wawa’s very first store in Folsom.

There, Wawa will feature 50th-anniversary decorations, historical photos and original signage from 1964, as well as the unveiling of an original pole sign.

From 6:00 to 7:00 a.m., visitors to the Folsom store will get to see the photos and signage, speak with associates dressed in vintage store uniforms, and be surrounded by visuals and sounds from the 1960s.

Wawa chairman Dick Wood will reenact the first-ever store transaction and unveil a special plaque dedicated to Wawa's founder Grahame Wood, while Wawa historian Maria Thompson will help bring customers back to 1964 through historical retrospectives of the times.

Customers will also have a chance to see the Wawa "Parade through the Ages," showcasing visual milestones of the past 50 years, followed by store associates recognizing prominent and loyal Wawa customers. Wawa's former president and CEO Howard Stoeckel will be on hand to autograph copies of his new book "The Wawa Way: How a Funny Name and Six Core Values Revolutionized Convenience." The event will conclude with a ribbon cutting that will commemorate Wawa’s renewed purpose and commitment to the next 50 years in business.

The second celebration will take place at the 17th and Arch Street Wawa store in Philadelphia, where Mayor Nutter will officially proclaim April 16 as Wawa Day in the City of Philadelphia.

During the event, president and CEO Chris Gheysens will pour the ceremonial first cup of coffee in honor of Wawa Day. The event will feature special guest Ben Franklin and will conclude with former president and CEO Howard Stoeckel unveiling a giant rendering of the cover of "The Wawa Way," which will go on sale to the public that day.

Wawa Day will conclude with a special evening ceremony for Wawa associates, business partners and invited community members at the National Constitution Center.

Part of CSP's 2014 Convenience Top 101 retailers