Wawa Finds New Purpose for Shuttered Philadelphia C-store

The location will serve as a production facility for Popcorn for the People, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the autistic community.
Rendering of a Popcorn for the People facility in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA Wawa Inc. plans to transform its former convenience store at 9th and South Streets in Philadelphia into a production facility for Popcorn for the People, an organization established in 2014 to create career opportunities for autistic individuals through the production and packaging of products. 

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The new dedicated space for Popcorn for the People will allow the organization to expand their production capabilities and continue to create jobs for people with autism and other disabilities. 

To enable this partnership, Wawa will provide in-kind support of more than $1.5 million over the next five years. The Eagles Autism Foundation will provide additional funding for store equipment to make the popcorn in conjunction with its partner, Nouryon, who has provided $500,000 in matching gifts to help bring the project to life. All renovations are expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2024.

"We are thrilled to join hands with Popcorn for the People and the Eagles Autism Foundation to provide even more individuals with the chance to pursue a fulfilling career right here in our home city of Philadelphia," said Dave Simonetti, senior director of store operations for Wawa. "All of this aligns strongly with Philadelphia's… City of Inclusion efforts to which we are committed to and proud to support. We look forward to the many ways this store will fulfill the lives of our community one kernel at a time."

In addition to the announcement of Wawa's plans to repurpose the store, the launch event also featured:

  • The unveiling of Popcorn for the People store renderings, which depict what the eventual transformation will look like. They also highlighted some of the location's design features, including a designated "wings" photo wall inviting the community to share their support.
  • A ribbon cutting ceremony at Lincoln Financial Field, where the company joined the Philadelphia Eagles to cut the ribbon at a Popcorn for the People kiosk debuting this upcoming football season. 
  • An announcement that select Wawa locations will begin carrying Popcorn for the People products later this year. 

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Pennsylvania-based Wawa operates 1,000 c-stores throughout the Northeast and Florida. The company has also broken ground on locations in North Carolina and Alabama — Wawa's first forays into those states. For more than 40 years, Wawa has also provided supported employment programs for people with intellectual disabilities in stores throughout its chain.

Wawa is No. 7 on the 2023 Convenience Store News Top 100 ranking.