Company News

Wawa Hits the Big 5-0

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

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.

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

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.

"I offer my sincere congratulations to Richard Wood, Chris Gheysens, Howard Stoeckel and everyone at Wawa Inc. on the occasion of the company's 50th anniversary and the launch of The Wawa Foundation," said Mayor Nutter. "Wawa is a fixture in the Philadelphia region and an extraordinary corporate citizen, most notably lending its name and support to the City of Philadelphia's Wawa Welcome America Festival during the Fourth of July celebrations. I’m honored to celebrate Wawa's 50th anniversary in business, and I look forward to the continued success of our partnership and enjoying many more Wawa hoagies for years to come."

In honor of both Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell and Mayor Nutter, Wawa will present a check for $50,000 to the Philadelphia Summer Youth Job Program, made possible through The Wawa Foundation, a new entity founded by Wawa to support Wawa's charitable giving and philanthropic activities.

At both in-store events, a photo exhibit of hoagie history, chronicling the development of Wawa's signature sandwich from its inception until now, will be on display. The events will also include original ads and signage from 1964; an antique Wawa truck from 1918 (at Folsom only); and of course, Wawa's mascot, Wally Goose, who will be on-hand all day to help celebrate Wawa's milestone birthday.

"Twenty-fourteen is a milestone year for Wawa, in more ways than one! We’re celebrating our 50th anniversary in retail and the release of a book written by our former president and CEO, Howard Stoeckel; we’re launching The Wawa Foundation; and we're celebrating the grand opening of 45 new stores," said Gheysens. "We're moving full-steam ahead and could not be more excited to celebrate the customers and associates who have made this success possible, and share our exciting plans to fulfill customers' lives in new and meaningful ways well into the future."

Wawa Inc., No. 16 on CSP's Convenience Top 101, is a privately held company begun in 1803 as an iron foundry in New Jersey. Toward the end of the 19th century, owner George Wood took an interest in dairy farming and the family began a small processing plant in Wawa, Pa., in 1902. The milk business was a huge success, due to its quality, cleanliness and "certified" process. As home delivery of milk declined in the early 1960s, Grahame Wood, George's grandson, opened the first Wawa Food Market in 1964 as an outlet for dairy products. Today, Wawa is an all-day, every-day stop for fresh, built-to-order foods, beverages, coffee, fuel services and surcharge-free ATMs. A chain of more than 635 convenience retail stores (more than 365 offering gasoline), Wawa stores are located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and central Florida. The stores offer a large fresh-food service selection, including Wawa brands such as built-to-order hoagies, freshly -brewed coffee, hot breakfast sandwiches, built-to-order specialty beverages and an assortment of soups, sides and snacks.

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