Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Wawa's Business Model: Shun And Abandon Healthy, Livable, Pedestrian-Oriented Neighborhoods; Embrace Sprawling, Unsustainable, Oil-Addicted Suburbs

a super wawa
Nice gas pumps, douchebags.

Wawa has confirmed our suspicions: they suck.
Today [Wawa] is a major player in the gas market. Wawa has about 200 sites with service stations, and all new Wawas will sell gas, [Wawa CEO Howard] Stoeckel said. The company has its own storage facility in the Port of Wilmington, he said.
Brilliant move.

Luckily, one Inquirer reader was up for taking them to task.
Letters: Wawa flight to suburbia denies its urban roots

Thursday's article, "How Wawa became a success," noted that all new Wawas will sell gas. This corporate decision, along with Wawa closing some older stores and Center City locations, seems wrongheaded.

Wawa was an iconic Philadelphia brand. Yet, unlike companies, such as Tasty Baking, that made a corporate commitment to the city, Wawa is retreating to the suburbs. The chain's popularity downtown was highlighted by the dozens of students who protested in the streets when Wawa closed its store at 20th and Locust Streets. As Philadelphia makes international headlines for its urban renaissance, it seems a foolhardy corporate decision to disassociate from the city.

Replacing older stores with gas-stationed "super-Wawas" is equally misguided. With gas prices rising, more and more people are buying smaller cars, driving less, and traveling by train. There is also a well-documented national preference for living in towns, villages, and cities, rather than sprawling suburbs.

Given these facts, if Wawa hopes to succeed, it should again "read the trend right," as it did 45 years ago, and reconnect to our region's towns and cities.

Gregory Heller, Philadelphia
Word. Amen. Etc.

How Wawa Became A Success [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Letters: Wawa flight to suburbia denies its urban roots [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Breaking: Rittenhouse Wawa Effs Loyal Customers, Set To Inexplicably Shut Its Doors Forever on February 29th, 2008


Greg Heller said...

Thanks for the shout out. Check out my blog at www.urbandirection.com. -Greg

Anonymous said...

But that's wrong because Wawa started out in the suburbs and has always been based out in the suburbs. It moved into the city and it worked, but their only business anymore was from suburbanites who moved into the city, such as those students who protested. Not enough to keep a store open

Anonymous said...

Wawa may be trying to divest itself of some Philadelphia holdings, but not without reason!
Frequent hold-ups, drug use in the bathrooms, not to mention graffiti;
vagrants panhandling at entrances and exits; ( some are regulars!!!); threats made against employees and the always volatile accusations of racism in business dealings, from inflated gas prices in certain neighborhoods, to cigarette prices( false since they are regulated); availability of products in urban Wawa's; and the list goes on!!
While not every Wawa experiences these problems, I am a vendor to the store in Port Richmond along Aramingo Avenue and witness these problems first hand!!
As far as abandoning neighborhoods, why don't those poor neighborhoods show some respect for a company that has the courage to open a store in their neighborhood in the first place, especially when the company builds these stores from the ground up. They typically take either undeveloped, or in the case of store#8013 ( the one I serve), they build on abandoned, contaminated land that was left to rot!!
As far as oil-addicted; there is no shortage of gas customers at urban Wawa's!!
The suburbs normally don't put up with what city-dwellers do!

Alexandra Harcharek said...

What a well-written letter Greg! I completely agree.

StephenC said...

WaWa sells mass-produced blandness which is no different from any other convenience store such as 7-11, or even from the larger hangars that sell corn, High Fructose Corn Syrup, salt and sugar posing as food. Philadelphians have an understandable attachment to a local success story, but take a step back and think about the stuff they sell without the rose-tinted spectacles.

It's industrialized junk posing as food, and no-one in their right mind needs them because apart from convenience of location they are no different from the rest.

Ryan said...

First off, like anon mentioned above, Wawa started in Media, PA, not philadelphia. Secondly, all wawas constructed in the past few years have been gas - this is nothing new. In fact, all wawas in virginia and maryland have gas, and they've been in business for years. there are great margins on gas, especially now that Wawa has secured its own storage facilities.

I think the shopping experience at a gas wawa is much greater than one of the older models because the interior layout is designed for optimal flow, as opposed to the older models which make due with the space they have.

sure Wawa makes business decisions that irk the most devote fans (ask Howard about 'fresh channel'), but they do things far better than a Sheetz, a Cumberland Farms, or a 7/11.