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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Wilmington or ‘Wawaton’? 10 stores from the popular chain planned for region, 6 in town

Wawa has 10 stores planned for the southeast region, including six in Wilmington. (Courtesy photo)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — A popular convenience store and gas station chain was in town Tuesday to announce the official arrival of multiple stores in the tri-county region.

Of the 10 stores planned in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties, six are slated for Wilmington.

  • South 17th St. and Wellington Avenue, Wilmington
  • 6800 Carolina Beach Road, Wilmington
  • 9021 Stephens Church Road, Wilmington
  • 4113 U.S. 421, Wilmington
  • 7375 Market St., Wilmington
  • 5400 Oleander Drive, Wilmington
  • Ocean Highway and Frontage Road N.W., Shallotte
  • Ocean Highway and Lanvale Road, Leland
  • 3 Green Swamp Road N.W., Supply
  • 19240 U.S. 17., Hampstead

Port City Daily reported on the first locations coming in 2022, with multiple others popping up since. The first approved in the region was at S. 17th Street and Wellington Avenue last spring. Another is planned for Oleander Drive.

The latter two received pushback from area residents and business owners. The 17th Street location was secured when a strip mall owner sold his property that moved multiple local businesses elsewhere.

Residents near Oleander Drive’s location have cited displeasure with plans due to light pollution, increased traffic, as well as ecological effects on wildlife.

“The overall quality of life for both humans and animals is something that should be taken into account,” Valerie Rider, a representative of the communities of Englewood and Clearbrook neighborhoods surrounding the Oleander Drive site, told PCD then. “Just because you’re a big business with deep pockets doesn’t mean that you don’t have a responsibility to care about the people who are here and will be directly affected by this.”

Only one will go on Carolina Beach Road, near J. Michael’s Philly Deli; another was posed for Carolina Beach Road near George Anderson and Fairview Drive but has since been pulled.

Joining these locations will be two in the northern part of the county, on Market Street near Casa Blanca Coffee Roasters, as well as on Stephen Church Road in Scotts Hill. Highway 421 will house a store located close to Professional Builders Supply.

Wawa has been planning an aggressive growth strategy, with the goal double its store count to 1,800 by 2030. It will fill in gaps along the East Coast from Virginia to Florida where currently no stores are located. 

The Pennsylvania-based company has garnered a cult following for its build-your-own sandwiches, hoagies, wraps and hot breakfast handhelds (“Sizzlis”), as well as coffee and flavored teas. It has more than 1,000 stores nationwide. 

According to company reps, it will bring 3,000 jobs to the state with North Carolina’s expansion, including stores coming to the Outer Banks, Greenville, Lumberton, Jacksonville and Fayetteville as well. It plans to have roughly 90 stores operating in the state in the next decade.

In Wilmington that would top 15 stores eventually. Plans include breaking ground on the first stores in 2024 and open three stores in 2025.

Also part of Wawa is its Wawa Foundation — a nonprofit sector that focuses on building communities. It often donates to hunger and health relief efforts. It has plans to donate $5,000 to Special Olympics of North Carolina and the Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina. 

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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