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Wawa's Milestones

By Barbara Grondin Francella

1964 Grahame Wood opens first Wawa store in Folsom, Pa. Two others soon follow.

1965 Wawa's corporate office has three employees. The busiest day of the week for sales is Sunday; supermarkets are closed on Sundays.

1966 Wawa has 42 full-time and 36 part-time associates. The first sales contest is held to promote Wawa Bread.

1967 Wawa's fresh meat department, located in Brookhaven, services 12 stores. The most popular seller: Wawa's meatloaf for $1.19 a pound.

1968 Wawa opens its first store in New Jersey. Big technological changes are made: electric typewriters are purchased.

1969 Wawa opens its first Delaware store, in Wilmington. The chain experiments with "Wawa Kitchens," similar to fast feeders with eat-in areas, in three stores.
Wawa's first tobacco and candy warehouse is established in a barn behind the company dairy.

1970 Wawa expands into Maryland, opening four stores in one week. Pre-made hoagies are introduced. The corporate offices receive their first computer system.

1971 With a second major expansion in a year, Wawa enters Connecticut. The first year, two stores are closed. Wawa also enters the laundry business in place of three Wawa Kitchens -- they were "washed up" by the end of the year.

1972 Wawa's new slogan is "People on the go, go to Wawa Food Markets" and opens its 100th store.

1973 Managers begin to take the weekends off.

1974 Wawa exits the meat business. For years, Wawa customers request the famous Wawa meatloaf.

1975 Freshly brewed coffee is offered. A contest is held to establish the official Wawa logo and a part-time associate wins.

1976 Wawa enters New York and eliminates its dairy routes.

1977 Wawa introduces built-to-order deli sandwich program. Richard D. Wood becomes president. Distribution routes and invoicing are all computerized.

1978 The 200th store, in Souderton, Pa., opens. A five-burner coffee program is introduced.

1979 With 228 stores, Wawa uses celebrities -- Eagle's All-Star Bill Bergey and baseball's Pete Rose -- in advertising.

1980 Wawa enters New York and eliminates its dairy routes. Wawa coffee receives "Best of Philly" award.

1981 Wawa enters New York and eliminates its dairy routes. The stores' menu now includes hot items. A new slogan -- "We do it just a little bit better" -- is developed by customers. A store design with a much larger foodservice area is conceived for all new stores.

1982 Wawa enters New York and eliminates its dairy routes. Remodeled deli and check-out areas offer faster customer service.

1983 Wawa enters New York and eliminates its dairy routes. Two-foot hoagies are introduced. An empty rose box from a florist is the prototype packaging.

1984 Wawa enters New York and eliminates its dairy routes. All sandwiches are now made only at customer's requests.

1985 Wawa enters New York and eliminates its dairy routes.

1986 The 300th store opens in Woodstown, N.J. A two-for-99-cent hot dog special is hugely successful; sales jump from fewer than 100 per store to 600 per store.

1987 Stores receive backroom computers.

1988 State-of-the-art Camp Wawa and Wawa University training programs debut. Point-of-sale scanning testing begins.

1992 Wawa celebrates First Annual Hoagie Day and opens 500th store.

1995 ATMs with no surcharges are added to the stores -- an unheard of marketing tactic.

1996 Wawa adds gasoline to the mix.

1997 Wawa juices are repackaged in plastic.

1998 Wawa redesigns its coffee area to improve speed and customer flow.

1999 Deli touchscreen kiosks speed up the food ordering process.

2000 Wawa's pre-made wraps make their debut. For the first time, a wedding is performed in a Wawa store.

2002 The 100th gasoline store opens in Newport News, Va.

2003 Wawa launches prepaid convenience card. Wawa vending machines are placed on school campuses and in office buildings.

2005 Contactless payment technology is installed at the pump and inside the store.
The chain also launches the Wawa VISA card with rewards. Money orders and magazines are discontinued to simplify checkout and streamline the product mix.

2006 Wawa opens its 200th gasoline store and introduces cheese steaks, milkshakes and toasting of any built-to-order sandwich. intranet is available at all stores.

2008 Hoagiefest -- a summer of festivals honoring the hoagie -- happens. A Coffeetopia campaign heralds a new cup design and Internet microsite. The chain tests first drive-in store, in Yorktown, Va.
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