Welcome to Wawa

Wawa held a grand open­ing for its new store at the old Lin­coln Mer­cury site at Roosevelt Boulevard and Tyson Av­en­ue. JENNY SWI­GODA / TIMES PHOTO

The north­east corner of Tyson Av­en­ue and Roosevelt Boulevard has been bar­ren since Decem­ber 2008, when the North­east Lin­coln Mer­cury car deal­er­ship ab­ruptly closed.

Ever since the last car pulled out of the lot, there seemed to be an ob­vi­ous re­place­ment.

A block away, at 2847-49 Tyson Ave., was a Wawa con­veni­ence store, loc­ated in a small shop­ping cen­ter. The store was mod­est in size and did not in­clude gas­ol­ine pumps.

Three years after the lar­ger site be­came avail­able, Wawa is of­fi­cially open for busi­ness.

The store at Tyson and Brous av­en­ues closed at 8 a.m. last Fri­day, pre­cisely the time the Boulevard loc­a­tion opened.

Mike Marino has spent 18 years with Wawa, in­clud­ing the last two as gen­er­al man­ager of a store in Hor­sham. He also was GM of a store in Pipers­ville, Bucks County.

Marino was asked if the new store was unique in any way com­pared to oth­er Wawa loc­a­tions.

“Ob­vi­ously, we have the Route 1 traffic,” he said.

The store is sur­roun­ded by res­id­ences, busi­nesses and count­less vehicles on Tyson Av­en­ue and Roosevelt Boulevard.

“This is an awe­some loc­a­tion,” said Maur­een Murphy, dir­ect­or of store op­er­a­tions for Wawa in Phil­adelphia and Bucks County and part of Mont­gomery County.

Murphy said the large Wawa stores with gas pumps are be­com­ing the norm.

“We have sev­en more already signed and in land de­vel­op­ment,” she said.

The com­pany of­fi­cial wouldn’t name the new sites, but one has already been pub­licly iden­ti­fied as at the in­ter­sec­tion of Krewstown Road and Grant Av­en­ue, on the cur­rent site of a gas sta­tion.

Wawa, a privately held com­pany, isn’t abandon­ing its smal­ler stores. In fact, the com­pany will tear down a build­ing at an ad­ja­cent used-car deal­er lot to in­crease park­ing for cus­tom­ers of the store at 7715 Frank­ford Ave.

The com­pany is based in a town in Delaware County called Wawa. The first store opened in 1964 in Fol­som, Delaware County as an out­let for dairy products.

Peter Gil­ligan, Wawa’s seni­or vice pres­id­ent of real es­tate, de­scribed the com­pany as a “con­veni­ence and re­tail in­dustry lead­er.”

Today, there are 580 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jer­sey, Delaware, Mary­land and Vir­gin­ia, all com­pany owned and op­er­ated.

Some 298 stores of­fer gas­ol­ine, a fea­ture that was in­tro­duced a little more than a dec­ade ago. Most are open 24 hours a day, sev­en days a week, 365 days a year. There are about 17,000 em­ploy­ees.

In the stores, there are more than 6,000 items in stock. The big sellers in­clude cold bever­ages, cof­fee, hot and cold built-to-or­der sand­wiches, bakery products and hot break­fast sand­wiches.

A pop­u­lar amen­ity is sur­charge-free ATMs.

“We can lit­er­ally have stores with­in a half-mile of one an­oth­er,” Murphy said.

The new­est Wawa in­cludes 20 gas pumps and plenty of park­ing, in­clud­ing a spot re­served to pump air in­to tires. About 60 people work there.

“We have the best em­ploy­ees in the world,” Marino said of all com­pany per­son­nel.

The grand open­ing ce­re­mony fea­tured free cof­fee and cake and a ho­agie-build­ing con­test pit­ting the 2nd and 15th po­lice dis­tricts against the fire de­part­ment’s En­gine 52.

Wawa donated a total of $1,000 to the hol­i­day party fund for the po­lice dis­tricts and an­oth­er $1,000 to the In­ter­na­tion­al As­so­ci­ation of Fire Fight­ers Loc­al 22 wid­ows’ fund.

The po­lice of­ficers also won brag­ging rights, build­ing 33 ho­agies in three minutes. The fire­men man­aged to make 27 ho­agies.

Among those in at­tend­ance were the Wally Goose com­pany mas­cot, City Coun­cil­man Jack Kelly (R-at large), Great­er North­east Phil­adelphia Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­id­ent Al Tauben­ber­ger and rep­res­ent­at­ives of the May­fair Busi­ness As­so­ci­ation and May­fair Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion.

Kelly de­clared that Wawa has the best cof­fee in Phil­adelphia.

Tauben­ber­ger said Wawa has the cheapest gas­ol­ine prices — $3.15 for a gal­lon of reg­u­lar un­leaded — and filled up his Ford Edge be­fore leav­ing.

The busi­ness lead­er cred­ited Wawa for work­ing with neigh­bor­hoods in vari­ous ways and be­ing part of com­munit­ies.

He also cited the com­pany’s eco­nom­ic im­pact, from hir­ing tem­por­ary con­struc­tion work­ers and per­man­ent store work­ers to con­tract­ing out for land­scapers and trash haulers.

“They cre­ate jobs for people in the com­munity,” he said.

Mike “Scoats” Scotese, pres­id­ent of the May­fair Busi­ness As­so­ci­ation, de­scribed the store open­ing as “a win.”

“It’s a pos­it­ive. It’s a lot bet­ter than a va­cant lot,” he said. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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