Wawa decided to expand to Washington, D.C., because of the demographics as well as the proximity to its home market, said a report in the Washington Business Journal.
The chain is looking for sites between 5,000 and 7,500 square feet in areas that can show they have more than 50,000 pedestrians passing by each week, the report said.
Georgetown, West End, East End, NoMa, Capitol Hill and Capitol Riverfront were all on a list of areas where Wawa is looking, the newspaper said, citing John Poplawski, director of site acquisition and development for Wawa. It is not looking at areas like Arlington and Alexandria, Va., Bethesda, Md., and the other more urbanized suburbs, said the report.
A map of areas that Wawa is targeting showed lots of points in the district and then others outside the Beltway, but none in between, the paper said. Wawa is still trying to figure out a model that works in a suburb where it isn’t likely to be able to sell gasoline, according to Gheysens.
“We really haven’t made a true commitment yet to take a nongas, urban model into suburbia,” Gheysens said at the event.
“When we get out of the city, our model works best when we have that fuel offering,” said Poplawski. “The rents in Northern Virginia are not cheap, so we have to make convenience-store economics work, and when you don’t have fuel, it becomes even more challenging.”