Wawa Wows Washington With New Store

By 
Greg Lindenberg, Editor, CSP

csp wawa dc

WASHINGTON -- Wawa Inc. opened its first convenience store in Washington, D.C., in the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District on Dec. 12.

At 9,200 square feet, Wawa’s inaugural store in the District of Columbia is the chain’s largest location to date. It does not offer fuel.

Here's a closer look …

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The new store “is a one-of-a-kind, restaurant-style location created specifically for the D.C. customer and will feature the best of Wawa’s products and innovations in a casual, inviting setting,” the company said. “It features the latest in Wawa’s offering with an upscale urban feel, indoor and outdoor seating, as well as an interactive digital experience all in the heart of the district.”

The c-store is the first location to include the chain’s new Wild Goose Cafe. Other highlights of the store include floor-to-ceiling windows; free Wi-Fi; and Wawa’s largest interior to date, with the chain’s signature foods and specialty beverages and new offers such as custom salads and nitro cold-brew coffee. The location also is Wawa’s first to offer free air for bicyclists.

Greg Feiner is the general manager of the store, leading a team of nearly 40 associates, all new positions brought to the area through the development of this store.

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John Poplawski, Wawa’s head of real estate development, said Washington, D.C., was perfect for the company’s urban concept expansion.

“It fits all of the things we are looking for in an urban market. It has the right population in terms of numbers, and it has great numbers of millennials, which are a sweet spot for our business,” he told WTOP in June. “Folks working in the high-rises and 24-hour hospitals and other things in urban environments need that place to touch down, get a cup of coffee, a smoothie, a great Wawa built-to-order hoagie, and there are very few places in the District that can fit that bill.”

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Wawa, Pa.-based Wawa operates more than 770 c-stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida. Reminiscent of election day, fans of the iconic chain, as well as customers new to the brand, lined up to cast their vote on the Wawa experience for the first time or in a new market.

Here are a few reactions:

 

 

csp wawa dc

The grand-opening celebration included a ribbon cutting featuring local officials and business leaders, Wawa leaders and associates, customers and Wawa’s mascot, Wally Goose. The ceremony included a performance of the national anthem with the local color guard and the Wawa History Parade, featuring a look back at Wawa through the years.

It also included a Hoagies for Heroes sandwich-building competition, benefiting local charities identified by the fire and police from the area. In addition, it featured free coffee, giveaways, tastings, music and more.

csp wawa dc

Part of Wawa’s grand-opening celebration focused on the company’s commitment to fighting hunger in the Washington, D.C., community. During the event, Wawa announced its Lending a Helping Hoagie Program, donating a portion of the store’s first week hoagie sales (up to $5,000) to the Capital Area Food Bank to help fight hunger in the region.

Also, the Wawa Foundation presented the Capital Area Food Bank with a grant for $10,000 to help launch its sustainable Fresh Community Market initiative as part of its Family Market program, a client-choice program that combines food distribution with parent-teacher interactions and nutrition education. It serves school-aged children and their families by hosting food distributions in communities where 50% or more of children are receiving free and reduced lunch support.

And between now and Dec. 31, Wawa’s annual Check Out Hunger in-store collection campaign provides customers the opportunity to contribute $1, $3, and $5 at the point of sale to benefit Feeding America Food banks throughout the chain’s six-state market.

csp wawa dc

Wawa said in June that it plans to open approximately 30 c-stores in the Washington, D.C., market, including five to 10 stores in the next two to three years. It will open its second Washington, D.C., store in Georgetown. Wawa will also continue ongoing expansion in the surrounding counties in Maryland and Virginia, the company said.

“By opening stores within the district, we will expand our brand awareness to the 600,000 residents and 700,000 daytime employees, including 200,000 millennials, who live and work in the district,” Chief Real Estate Officer Brian Schaller said in June. “In addition, we are extremely excited to serve the 21 million visitors who travel to Washington, D.C., each year, many of whom are already familiar with Wawa.”

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Although President Donald Trump did not attend the opening of Wawa’s first c-store in the nation’s capital, he is no stranger to Wawa. Days before the election, on Nov. 1, 2016, then-Republican presidential candidate Trump made a surprise stop at a Wawa in King of Prussia, Pa., after delivering a speech nearby. He wandered the store for a few minutes and posed for selfies.

At the time, Tom Kohler—on a lunch run—got caught in the media crossfire. Kohler was the chair of the local Democratic committee and a legislative aide to Pennsylvania State Rep. Tim Briggs (D). In the Getty Images photo that went viral, Kohler is clearly not pleased with his proximity to the then-candidate.