Wawa Is Finally Expanding To The Midwest

According to MarketWatch, there are roughly 115,000 gas stations across the U.S. — but true fans know there's only one Wawa. We're not talking about the New York "no-wave" song by Lizzy Mercier Descloux. We're talking about the Pennsylvania-based gas station-meets-convenience-store that has inspired an almost puzzlingly enthusiastic local fanbase. Eater even released a video titled, "Why is Pennsylvania Obsessed with the Food at This Gas Station?" One fan tells the outlet, "When someone asks me, 'What's good about where you live?' The first thing out of my mouth is Wawa. Well, the Liberty Bell's on that list too, but it's past Wawa."

Since the first Wawa opened in 1964, the chain has expanded to nearly 1,000 stores spanning Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Washington D.C. (via Wawa). Numerically, it's a small chain (for reference, there are over 12,600 Shell gas stations spread across the U.S., per ScrapeHero), but it's been racking up some big accolades. In 2022, Wawa generated nearly $15 billion in revenue (via Statista), making it one of the top five largest privately-owned convenience store/gas stations in the U.S. after Pilot Flying J and Love's. Wawa ranked #12 on Forbes' Halo 100 List 2022. Forbes also named Wawa one of the Best Employers for Veterans in 2022 and America's 24th Largest Private Company. Now, Wawa is hitting fans with more big news: It's finally expanding to the Midwest.

An alignment of values

Longtime and aspiring Wawa fans, rejoice. According to a press release dropped this week, Wawa is expanding to Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Now, folks in the Bluegrass State, Buckeye fans, and Hoosiers can enjoy made-to-order sandwiches, bakery products, coffee, ice cream, soups, salads, and burgers, among Wawa's other offerings. (There's even a Wawa Beer if you're in the mood to celebrate this massive announcement.)

Why did Wawa choose these three states for its latest venture? CEO Chris Ghysens says the Midwest makes an ideal fit for Wawa due to the states' "strong business communities" and "family-like atmosphere." In other words, Wawa digs the Midwest sensibilities. According to the Wawa website, the chain considers its "social purpose," prioritizing good working conditions for its roughly 36,000 employees and fostering a sense of community — values reflected by a customer base that keeps coming back. (Wawa calls the phenomenon "Goose Pride.")

As eager as fans might be about the announcement, Wawa is prolonging the gratification. Per the press release, the Midwest expansion isn't happening until after 2025. But Wawa says it will release details and a more specific timeline sometime during 2023. Looking forward, the convenience store chain has its sights set on Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, and the Florida Panhandle in 2024. Wawa will also be moving into Tennessee soon, as previously announced.