It is a birthday party fifty-years in the making. Convenience retailer Wawa will mark its birthday with a free coffee giveaway to patrons visiting any one of its stores up and down the east coast. And that is just the beginning of the company’s birthday bash.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will declare Wednesday, April 16th as Wawa Day at one of the company’s Center City locations. Nutter and Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens will celebrate at the 17th and Arch Streets location remembering the opening of Wawa’s first convenience shop in Folsom, Delaware County in April 1964.
According to Gheysens when the doors to that first Wawa swung open five decades ago, the original design was meant as an outlet for Wawa dairy products. Fast forward to 2014 and company stores are not your grandparents or even your parents Wawa convenience outlets. Besides picking up sodas, coffee, breakfast, lunch and dinner, customers are also able to fill up their gas tanks at hundreds of locations up and down the east coast.
Today Wawa has expanded its retail footprint from the Philadelphia region to six states to include 645 shops serving some 400-million customers a year.
With three dozen stores opening in less than two years in the Central Florida area, the Sunshine State is seen as a major growth area for Wawa over the long-term but the company has no other immediate plans to move into other states. One thing the retailer is looking to explore in the upcoming months is a customer rewards program that will be available on mobile devices.
Gheysens also adds this year’s milestone celebration will also see the launch of The Wawa Foundation which will find the retailer earmarking $50 million for health and hunger initiatives.