Cynthia Mayer of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported in 1989 that there was the indignity of being from a town now associated with convenience stores (Wawa Inc.). Eight weeks prior to June 15, 1989, Wawa Inc. had announced plans to expand their dairy located in Middletown Township. Walter Kirby, head of the Wawa Farm Association, alerted residents of the Wawa community who showed up in large numbers at a meeting.
Kirby said that while residents didn't want the dairy to expand, they preferred having a dairy to other types of development. Wawa is located in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, partly in Middletown Township and partially in the Chester Heights district. Cynthia Mayer reported that Wawa doesn't bother to contain itself conveniently within either municipality because the community predates that of the county and that of both municipalities. Starting in 1989, Wawa has several open fields, several farms, the Wawa Inc.
corporate headquarters, and what Mayer said was what could be the last dairy farm in Delaware County. Mayer said the dairy gives Wawa flavor and, in 1989, retains Wawa as a neighborhood and threatens it according to some residents. Baltimore Pike divides Wawa into east and west sections. Starting in 1989, according to Cynthia Mayer of the Philadelphia Inquirer, traffic obstructs Baltimore Pike.
Population estimates ranged from five families to 265 families according to Cynthia Mayer. A longtime resident of Wawa Road estimated that there were five families while Walter Kirby, 68, head of the Wawa Farm Association estimated that there were 265 families. In 1989 Bruce Clark, manager of Middletown Township said that the municipality does not really recognize Wawa as anything more than a neighborhood according to Cynthia Mayer's paraphrasing. The district of Chester Heights is located in the Garnet Valley School District while the Township of Middletown is in the Rose Tree Media School District.
Recently, Wawa unveiled plans to add up to 40 new stores in central Pennsylvania where rival Sheetz has a strong presence. On Thursday, the Delaware County-based company announced plans to open up to 40 new stores in central Pennsylvania where Altoona-based Sheetz has long been the dominant choice for customers. Wawa currently has 17 stores in Berks and Lancaster Counties and it's unclear how far they plan to venture into central Pennsylvania but they encourage people to fill out an online form to suggest sites for future store locations. The convenience store chain has come a long way since its humble beginnings first as an iron foundry in the early 19th century and later as a dairy farm and processing plant in the early 20th century.
The company thrived as a milk delivery business until it began opening stores in the 1960s to adapt to a changing market. Since then, Wawa has regained part of its presence in North Jersey with their northernmost location outside of Pennsylvania being in Morris County, New Jersey. Sheetz established in 1952 began significant expansion in central and western Pennsylvania in the 1980s and now has more than 630 stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. The two companies that offer a similar combination of convenience items, made-to-order food and fuel haven't overlapped much in Pennsylvania but have been the subject of a light-hearted rivalry with many jokes over the years from US Democrats Senate Candidate John Fetterman's Sheetz loyalty to a documentary in progress that will examine competition.
Late night TV presenter Seth Meyers spoke about the two stores last month and revealed that he is a type of Sheetz fan.
Wawa'splanned expansion in Pennsylvania raises the question of whether Sheetz will eventually plant a flag in the Philadelphia area with their nearest store being located in Morgantown, Berks County. Michael Tanenbaum PhillyVoice Staff reported that there is one location per 32,298 people accounting for approximately 28% of total number of Wawa locations while The Municipality of Chester Heights receives most of its local taxes for services from employees of Wawa Inc. Bruce Clark manager of Middletown Township said that no one has drawn a line on a map that says this is where Wawa starts and ends.
In 1989 Mayer reported that many residents including Walter Kirby head of the Wawa Farm Association said that because they lived on land previously occupied by cows they lived in Wawa. There is one location per 52,040 people accounting for approximately 25% of total number of Wawa locations with there being 7 states and territories with Wawa locations and 49 states and territories without any Wawa location. In 1989 Walter Kirby recalled that Wawa dairy began selling 5-acre (2.0 ha) lots of what were its farmland starting in 1940. Cynthia Mayer reported that open land characterizes the community and that Wawa is simply beautiful.