While its been five months since the formal groundbreaking ceremony, and significant work beyond site prep has yet to take place on U.S. 158 across from Target in Kill Devil Hills, Wawa convenience store officials say they are still on track to open their first location in North Carolina next spring.
Progress on construction of the state’s second Wawa at the corner of Halstead Boulevard and Ehringhaus Street in Elizabeth City is also taking place, with demolition of a former restaurant on that site that began this fall.
And the Pennsylvania-based with more than 1,000 locations across six states and the District of Columbia is rumored to be looking at a site in northern Currituck County.
After hinting about their plans to rapidly expand across Eastern North Carolina at the May 12 groundbreaking ceremony on a site at the corner of North Croatan Highway and Fourth Street in Kill Devil Hills, Wawa announced Wednesday at events in Greenville and Wilson they will open eight stores in the region in 2024 with a goal of more than 80 locations over the next decade.
“We were thrilled to share our ‘flight plan’ for North Carolina and reveal, for the very first time, our exciting expansion plans, renderings and more with our newest soon-to-be neighbors!” Kim Dowgielewicz, Director of Store Operations for Wawa said in a news release.
Lori Bruce, Public Relations Manager for Wawa said the Kill Devil Hills store is on track to open in spring 2024, with the general contractor mobilizing this week and site work expected to begin next week.
Construction on the Elizabeth City store will start in January and opening in early third quarter, Bruce said.
Grand openings are also slated in the next year for two stores each in Wilson and Goldsboro, and single locations in Rocky Mount and Greenville.
In addition to the stores set to open in 2024, Wawa has more than 30 sites under contract currently going through local approval processes, the company said in their news release.
One of those is believed to be at the corner of N.C. 168 and South Mills Road in Moyock. A folder has been created on the Currituck County Planning Department’s webpage for “South Mills Convenience Store”, but there were no documents uploaded to that folder as of Thursday.
Company officials were tight-lipped about a Moyock store at the groundbreaking in Kill Devil Hills, and have neither confirmed nor denied they are examining their options for a store on Caratoke Highway.
Wawa expects to open up to 15 North Carolina stores in 2025 and 10 stores in 2026, with plans to open a total of 80 stores over the next 10+ years in the eastern part of the state. Wawa Real Estate teams continue to look for sites throughout North Carolina, the company said.
“We can’t wait to open our doors to the community next year,” Dowgielewicz said. “As we get closer to our grand openings in 2024, we will be sharing even more details on our growth in North Carolina all while connecting with more customers, communities, partners and nonprofit organizations.”
Founded in 1964 and based in Chester Heights, Pennsylvania, Wawa now has 1,000 stores in six states, including Virginia, D.C, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Florida. And they will soon break ground on a store near Mobile, Alabama.
The stores have an almost cult-like following of their large fresh foodservice selection, including Wawa brands such as custom prepared hoagies, freshly-brewed coffee, hot breakfast sandwiches, specialty beverages and an assortment of soups, sides and snacks.
Forbes.com Ranks Wawa as #24 of America’s Largest Private Companies in 2021, #12 on Forbes 100 Halo List in 2022, #1 in the convenience category of Newsweek’s “America’s Best Retailers” list; and Forbes’ List for America’s Best Companies for Veterans.
Their location just off the Chesapeake Expressway in the Edinburgh section of Chesapeake has become a popular stopping point for Outer Banks travelers and commuters.
To build each store, Wawa said they will invest approximately $7 million and employ, on average, 140 contractors and local partners.
Once open, each store will employ, on average, 35 associates, with Wawa expecting to create more than 2,800 new jobs as a result of its expansion. Wawa associates own 39% of the Company through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).