Morning Headlines: Flagship Wawa Closes; Locals Mourn

It was the first Wawa 50 years ago. Tonight there will be a candlelight vigil.

Okay, that’s not true. Though the Greater Philadelphia area is taking this harder than James Garner’s death (RIP, Rockford), I doubt there’ll be a candlelight vigil — but note my use of the word “doubt,” because the region’s love for Wawa is (some would say irrationally) fierce.

deco daily times coverIt’s the front page of the Delaware County Daily Times, headline blaring: “1…and Done” and “End of the line for historic Wawa store.” To which I reply: WHERE WAS THE PRESERVATION ALLIANCE ON THIS? Working on the Boyd and the Blue Horizon? Priorities, people!

Barbara Ormsby, reporting for the Delco Daily Times, strikes a wistful note: “The Wawa on MacDade Boulevard and Swarthmore Avenue — the company’s very first convenience store that opened 50 years ago — will soon be gone, but won’t be forgotten.”

That’s because this Wawa business, if not its building, is just moving down the road to a four-acre site at MacDade and Kedron Avenue (Route 420), where it’ll become one of those behemoth Super Wawas that everyone derides until they’re running low on gas and recognize the fortuitous joy of filling up on Unleaded and Shortis simultaneously.

The objections to the Super Wawa were not preservationist in nature, but they were passionate–so much so that the township took the case to Common Pleas court. Compromises were reached, and now Susan Bratton, regional real estate manager for Wawa, tells Ormsby, “It will still be store (No.) 1 for us, even though it’s a new store.”

Bratton said the company hopes to include some historic photography of the original store in the new building…

“It’s important that people know this is where we started,” Bratton said.

And where they are now: a beloved anchor of this community.

…at least two Wawa shoppers who live on Swarthmore Avenue, across the street from the soon-to-close store, are not at all happy about losing the convenience of having Wawa a matter of feet from their front door.

“I’m devastated,” said Denise Master. “This store has been a staple here in the neighborhood. I will definitely miss just walking across the street to the store. This is a bummer.”

Denise’s daughter, Danielle Master, echoed her mother’s dismay at the news that her neighborhood Wawa will be closing.

“It’s been there forever,” Danielle said. “I go there for fountain soda and to take money out (of the ATM),” she said.

Oh, and don’t pretend you don’t care about this story. You and the Master family and so many other people, who love Wawa for a host of reasons. Like iradiotom of iradiophilly, who put this Wawa closure as his top news item before the paraplegic who killed his brother and the missing Longport boater, hundreds of irate Philly Mag readers professed their adoration for Wawa when a writer said she didn’t understand the store’s appeal. I guess that’s like saying Sheetz seems kind of “eh” when you’re in Altoona.

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As for the historic Wawa building? That’s not up to Wawa. But as we’ve seen before, former Wawas have been put to all kinds of good use.

What’s good for the goose: Wawa closing first store [Delco Daily Times]

Surely there’s other news, but does it even matter?