In a large metropolis like Philadelphia, things are usually bigger. The skyscrapers reach tall towards the clouds, the parks are vast and littered with historical markers, and flagshop store locations feature perhaps three floors of retail where their suburban counterparts have only one. But is bigger always better? Not necessarily. Old City Philadelphia is home to the world’s largest Wawa store, a sprawling monument to the refined convenience store, complete with a gourmet coffee bar, deluxe hoagie selections, a bespoke line of craft beers, and several murals by local artists framing places to sit and enjoy your food. But, as of Friday, Center City is also home to one of the chain’s smallest outposts: a 3,000 square foot mini-mart with a cunning, space-saving layout and a takeout window.
The extraordinarily small store, part of a new concept by the chain, opened Friday at 33 S. 16th Street. The first 100 guests in line received free coffee and a Wawa t-shirt. Mayor Jim Kenney himself cut the ribbon. Inside, the store featured large displays of both hot and cold express food items for customers to grab and go, an artisanal tea bar (a first for Wawa), along with fresh bakery offerings and a curated selection of snacks. Absent, of course, is Wawa’s signature make-your-own hoagie bar. New to the stage is the takeout window, meant to be used in conjunction with the Wawa app’s mobile ordering service. Customers can select and customize their drinks on their phones, and then stroll over to the window where it will be handmade and ready to go.
Why, after debuting the so-called “Mega Wawa,” would the chain choose to go mini? David Simonetti, senior director of store operations for Wawa, has the answer:
At Wawa, we strive to accommodate our customers in multiple ways and this new store design is geared towards meeting the needs of our local community members who require quick food options without sacrificing fresh and quality ingredients to fuel their daily routine.
This marks downtown’s ninth Wawa outlet, part of aggressive expansion in the most-trafficked part of the company’s home market.