It's not baby talk -- when folks say they need to go to Wawa, they need groceries. Wawa owns and runs some 600 Wawa Food Markets in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and now Florida. Wawa stores are noted for their coffee and their salad and deli offerings, including hoagie sandwiches; about 200 stores sell gas. Unlike many convenience store chains, Wawa has its own dairy, supplying Wawa stores and about 1,000 hospitals, schools, and other institutions. The company opened its first store in 1964, but its roots go back to an iron foundry begun in 1803 by the Wood family; food operations began in 1902 when George Wood started a dairy in Wawa, Pennsylvania.
Wawa Foodmarket stores rang up an estimated $4.7 billion in sales in 2011.
Expanding beyond its Mid-Atlantic base, Wawa entered Florida in 2012 with six stores in the Orlando area. More stores are slated to open in the Orange County and Orlando vicinities in 2013, as are the chain's first stores in Tampa. Wawa projects it will open 100 stores in the Orlando and Tampa markets by 2015. Wawa is growing in existing markets too. It's advancing toward the Washington, D.C. area, opening stores along the Washington-Baltimore corridor in northern Virginia and Maryland. The convenience store chain plans to add as many as 60 locations in New Jersey by 2015.
To entice shoppers to its stores, Wawa has stuck with its no-fee ATM policy, and in 2010 celebrated its 1 billionth withdrawal. The chain continues to work to expand its line of private-label foods and other merchandise in an effort to differentiate itself from its competition. It offers a large selection of fresh food, including ready-to-eat salads and produce. Since the launch of its own brand of bottled water in 2004, the company has introduced about 300 packaged items -- including candy, yogurt, and tea -- under the Wawa label.
The founding Wood family owns 52% of the company. Employees own about 28% of Wawa.
Wawa is the Lenni Lenape word for the Canada goose that was found in the Delaware Valley; hence the goose on Wawa's logo. – less