State of Pennsylvania in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, partially in Middletown Township, is home to the iconic convenience store chain Wawa. Eight weeks prior to June 15, 1989, Wawa Inc. announced plans to expand their dairy farm located in Middletown Township. Walter Kirby, head of the Wawa Farm Association, alerted residents of the 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 of the Philadelphia Inquirer said 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 had 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 that 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.
According to Cynthia Mayer of the Philadelphia Inquirer, population estimates ranged from five families to 265 families in 1989. Mayer said 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. 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. Cynthia Mayer of the Philadelphia Inquirer said in 1989 that there was the indignity of being from a town now associated with convenience stores (Wawa Inc.).
In 2020, Wawa unveiled plans to add up to 40 new stores in central Pennsylvania where rival Sheetz has a strong presence. On Thursday, 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. It's unclear how far the company plans to venture into central Pennsylvania but it encourages 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 its northernmost location outside of Pennsylvania being 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 subject to a light-hearted rivalry with many jokes over the years from US 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's planned expansion in Pennsylvania raises the question of whether Sheetz will eventually plant a flag in the Philadelphia area with their nearest store being Morgantown Berks County according to Michael Tanenbaum PhillyVoice Staff. In 1989 Kirby said paraphrased by Mayer that Wawa residents are grateful to the dairy and are wary of its success because they realize that Wawa is still a bag of green space because Wood family owns a lot of land.
The Municipality of Chester Heights receives most of its local taxes for services from employees of Wawa Inc. When Edward Worth built a farm here he called it Wawa which is an Ojibwe word for wild goose because of flocks of geese attracted by still water behind Lenni Milldam. In 1989 Mayer said many residents including Walter Kirby head of Wawa Farm Association said because they lived on land previously occupied by cows they lived in Wawa. There are currently around 965 Wawa stores located throughout Pennsylvania New Jersey Delaware Maryland Virginia Florida and Washington DC according to Ron Lincoln an employee at Media Post Office in 1989 who said former post office that served Wawa Darling Post Office closed 1973 or 1974. Bruce Clark manager Middletown Township said no one ever drew line on map says Wawa starts ends here.
In 1989 Walter Kirby director Wawa Farm Association recalled that dairy began selling 5-acre (2 ha) lots what were its farmland starting 1940. Mayer said roads such as Valley Road and Wawa Road are narrow winding take you through speckled forests only occasionally interrupted by house.