Wawa Gets to Know Its Florida Neighbors

TAMPA, Fla. -- With plans firmly in place for its move into Florida, Wawa Inc. held two community events to introduce itself to the Tampa Bay and Greater Pinellas County regions.

The “Community Partnership Day” events were held March 27 and March 28. Each was designed to highlight the Pennsylvania-based convenience store chain's history, product offerings, employees and Wawa's expected economic impact on the area, according to the company.

The first event was held at the Tampa History Center, followed the next day by an event at The Renaissance Vinoy Golf Club in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Wawa's Florida expansion will mark the first time the c-store chain has set down roots outside its core Mid-Atlantic market. The retailer is expected to hold the grand opening of its first Florida store in Orlando on July 18. A total of six locations will open in the Orlando market between July and October, the company added.

Work on Wawa's Tampa addresses will begin in May, with the first store in the area to rise at Gandy Boulevard and Grand Avenue in Pinellas Park. The first five stores in Tampa and Pinellas County will open in February and March 2013 in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties.

A news release issued by the company noted that Wawa plans to invest close to $6 million in each location. Each Wawa store employs between 30 and 40 full- and part-time associates. Those associates receive competitive salaries, health benefits and will have the opportunity to participate in Wawa's employee stock ownership plan.

All told, Wawa expects to open 20 stores in the Sunshine State in 2013; 24 locations in 2014; and 24 stores in 2015. Company projections call for there to be 100 stores in central Florida within the next five years.