Wawa Expansion Plans: Coming Soon to These 8 States

This cult favorite convenience store might be headed your way.

Wawa gas station in orlando florida
Updated June 12, 2024
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Wawa, the iconic convenience store chain originating from Philadelphia, has transcended its humble beginnings to become a beloved cultural phenomenon throughout the country.

With celebrities like Kate Winslet and Harry Styles singing its praises, and a fiercely loyal customer base, Wawa has carved out a special place in the hearts of many. But what exactly is behind its popularity, and what does the future hold for this cherished institution?

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A family business: the Wawa legacy

_KUBE_/Adobe woman opened the refrigerator and reaches for the top shelf with drinks

Wawa began as a dairy all the way back in 1902, delivering fresh milk to homes throughout Pennsylvania.

The company then expanded to food products, and the Wawa Food Market was founded in 1964 by Grahame Wood. Over the years, it has evolved into a sprawling empire of convenience stores, boasting approximately 1,000 locations and generating staggering sales of about $18.5 billion in 2023. The Wood family's 53% stake in the company has propelled them to a net worth of $6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Wawa has become a beloved store by many as it’s a cheap place to grab coffee, sandwiches, and other snacks and desserts.

Where Wawa is expanding

Rido /Adobe A woman opening a small business

Now, the Woods are embarking on an ambitious expansion plan to introduce Wawa to new markets across the United States. With a goal of opening up to 280 new stores over the next decade, Wawa is set to make its mark in eight states across the South and Midwest.

They've already started with their first-ever North Carolina store open in Kill Devil Hills, and 10 more to come by the end of 2024 in Rocky Mount, Elizabeth City, Greenville, Wilson, and Goldsboro. 

This push represents the most aggressive growth strategy in Wawa's history and a significant test of its regional appeal on a national scale. Wawa’s current expansion includes the following states:

  1. Florida
  2. Alabama
  3. Tennessee
  4. Georgia
  5. North Carolina
  6. Ohio
  7. Indiana
  8. Kentucky

Why customers love Wawa

kanpisut/Adobe refueling car at gas station

What is it about Wawa that inspires such fervent devotion from its customers? For many, it's more than just a convenience store — it's a cultural touchstone that embodies the spirit of Philadelphia. Whether it's the fresh hoagies, delicious coffee, or the sense of community fostered by its friendly staff, Wawa holds a special place in the hearts of those who grew up with it.

The company's employee ownership program, introduced in 1992, further solidifies its bond with both customers and employees, with workers owning approximately 38% of the company.

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The "Wawa experience" and future challenges

Seventyfour/Adobe customer paying with card at cashier

As Wawa expands into new territories, it faces the challenge of replicating its success and generating the same level of loyalty in unfamiliar markets. With established competitors like Murphy USA and Casey's General Stores to contend with, Wawa must navigate regional preferences and tastes while staying true to its brand identity.

When expanding into Staten Island and Connecticut, Wawa caused an uproar by giving away Philadelphia Eagles calendars to fans devoted to the New York Giants and New England Patriots. Despite past missteps in expansions, Wawa remains undeterred in its quest for nationwide dominance.

As Wawa plans to expand into the South and other parts of the country, the company will have to adapt to different regional cultures and ways of life. An integral part of Wawa’s success has been fostering a sense of community, which it must maintain and replicate to expand successfully.

Bottom line

Lawr/Adobe wawa convenience store and gas station

Wawa's journey from a local dairy to a national powerhouse is a testament to the enduring appeal of its brand. With its expansion plans set in motion and a legion of devoted fans behind it, Wawa is poised to continue its reign as a beloved institution and may even be coming to a location near you soon.

As the company ventures into new territories, it will undoubtedly face challenges, but its commitment to quality, community, and customer satisfaction ensures that the Wawa legacy will endure for generations to come. Plus, it’s an affordable meal option if you’re hoping to keep more cash in your wallet.

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Author Details

Georgina Tzanetos

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who has been active in financial media for the past six years. She holds a master's in political economy from NYU, where she studied distressed labor markets.