I remember my first Wawa like it was my first girlfriend. The Providence Road store in Wallingford across from the Helen Kate Furness Library. That Wawa and I had a lot of good times together. Hoagies and Mountain Dew after soccer games. Sneaking Marlboro Lights behind the dumpster in high school. The “safe” meeting place after the cops chased us from local beer parties. And I hate to admit it but a few packs of gum from those shelves may have also made their way into my pockets over the years. Good memories.
You see, for most people a store is just a store. Bricks and mortar. In and out. For Delco, Wawa is a way of life. A brand that we are born into. For a lot of kids the Wawa was their first job. For others it’s a daily ritual seeing the familiar face behind the counter making your lunch.
This week Wawa will celebrate it’s 50th anniversary of the opening of it’s first that opened it’s doors in Folsom in April 1964. Our lives will never be the same.
We stop for coffee, A Shortie,the ATM, a pack of Cigs, Krimpets and Gas. But most of all we go to Wawa because it’s ours. The sprawling corporate is located off of Baltimore Pike and still has the original facade of it’s dairy house. It’s also home to “Wawa University. ” The critical training protocol that’s the backbone of the company’s highly successful customer service philosophy. In 5 decades the company has expanded to 22,000 employees and 650 stores in 6 states as far away as Florida. (And stores there have outdoor seating)
But why the seemingly endless devotion to a store with a weird name? Facebook fan pages chat the virtues of Hoagiefest, Twitter feeds buzz about the new coffee flavor and blogs have in depth discussions about the cute cashier in the Aston store. After all this is just a convenience store right? Wrong. The reason we are in love with Wawa is we have literally grown up with them. We treasure those nostalgic warm memories that make us feel good. Just like your first girlfriend.