- Wawa is considering turning one of its recently shuttered c-stores in Philadelphia into a technology training center as a means to “repurpose” the location, a spokesperson from the c-store chain said in an email.
- The training center — which would take over the location on 19th and Market streets — is “still in the concept and planning stage” with “no details on opening at this time,” the spokesperson said.
- This comes a handful of months after reports surfaced that Wawa was “seriously considering” ceasing future expansion plans in Philadelphia due to crime concerns.
Wawa has closed five stores in Philadelphia’s City Center since mid-2020, with its most recent two shuttering last October, citing "continued safety and security challenges and business factors." Looking to turn one of these recently closed c-stores into a technology hub could be a sign of optimism for Wawa in its home base.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Wawa’s CEO Christopher Gheysens first mentioned the idea during the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s economic outlook meeting Jan. 13, where he noted the new facility could be part of a greater effort to invest in the region’s technology talent market.
Additionally, Gheysens said the space could be used to train tech workers for Wawa, as well as workers and students from other organizations and businesses. He noted that Wawa builds its own customer-facing technology and dedicates about 30% of its overhead spending to it, and has faced a shortage of mid-level tech talent in Philadelphia, according to the Inquirer.
“Our goal and hope is that it will become a little bit of a beacon at a prime real estate location,” Gheysens said during the meeting. “That is a great location and hopefully a visible sign that tech is alive and well, and the ecosystem we create around it in Philly is alive and well and grows.”
Wawa’s Philadelphia operations have been the lone dark spot for the company in recent months. Since March 2022, Wawa has announced plans to grow from seven to 14 states of operation and build on its existing territories within the coming years, hoping to reach 1,800 stores, which would make it the fourth-largest c-store chain nationwide.