Where's the Wawa'?

Second Wawa store closes in Philadelphia's Center City area

PHILADELPHIA-- A Wawa convenience store in Philadelphia's Center City downtown business district closed last night, reported The Philadelphia Daily News. The store, situated in the rear of the Dorchester on Rittenhouse Square condominium tower, is the fifth of 10 Wawas in Center City to shut down in recent years, Lori Bruce, a Wawa corporate spokesperson, told the newspaper.

"We are a business built on evolution," said Bruce. "You have to change in order to remain [relevant] to the customers." Embracing change is one of Wawa's core values, she added. "These decisions are tough," Bruce [image-nocss] said. "Any time we close a store, it's emotional. You know that song, 'Breaking Up is Hard to Do'? It's like that."

She declined to elaborate on the company's reasons for leaving. Employees will be transferred to nearby Wawas, and most will be able to choose their location, she added.

The Wawa at Rittenhouse Square opened in 1991, after 7-Eleven Inc. vacated the property. It is the second Wawa in Center City to close in the last year, Bruce said, but she added that the closings are "not unique to Center City."

The Wawa, Pa.-based chain has opened six stores in Philadelphia in the last four years, the report said, with one relocated store under construction in the city. Most new sites being considered for construction would include gas stations, Bruce said.

Wawa owns the store space it occupies in the Dorchester, said the report. According to the company's website, the space is up for sale at a price of $2.1 million.

Patricia Yonekawa, general manager of the Dorchester, said many residents of the building are frequent Wawa customers and are sad to see it go. "We are going to miss Wawa," she told the paper. "It's a great resource and a great part of the community."

One resident told the Daily News, "It's convenient and cheap and a benefit for the aged and the poor." Another said, "It makes me want to move. This is what keeps me in the neighborhood. Forget Rittenhouse: Where's the Wawa?"

Yonekawa said that some Dorchester residents had put together a petition asking that the Wawa remain open.

Other residents are excited by the prospect of a new c-store moving in, said the report. "[Wawa's] sandwiches are reasonable," said one resident. "But some of their stuff is so overpriced, I'm surprised they're still in business."