Wawa holds grand opening for Franklin store

Published 2:00 pm Friday, September 30, 2022

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Wawa Inc. hosted a grand opening celebration Thursday morning, Sept. 22, for its new store located at 1461 Armory Drive in Franklin.

The event drew a notable crowd that included local citizens, elected officials, Wawa representatives and the team that will be running the store.

The Southampton High School marching band provided music that helped establish an energetic tone to the proceedings.

As noted in a Wawa news release, prior to the celebration, which began at 9 a.m., the store opened at 8 a.m., when Wawa began distributing limited-edition, Wawa “Goose Vibes Only” T-shirts for the first 100 customers who walked through the door. 

Wawa will also provide free coffee to toast the community and brighten days until Sunday, Oct. 2

“I am thrilled to welcome you to your new store,” Wawa Director of Store Operations Kim Dowgielewicz said to the crowd during the grand opening celebration. “This is the latest stop on our 2022 Day Brighteners Tour, and it’s the 26th of 54 new stores that we’re opening across our team this year.”

The news release stated that Wawa’s 2022 Day Brighteners Tour is an initiative designed to celebrate the customers, associates, local heroes and community organizations that brighten days.

“Our store team is committed to spreading positivity or what we’re calling ‘Goose Vibes Only’ on opening day and beyond, so cue the music, let’s put our hands together as we welcome our store team led by General Manager Stacie Langley,” Dowgielewicz said.

Addressing the crowd later in the celebration, Langley said, “Franklin, you have no idea how excited I am to be here. I get to move here tomorrow, I get to call this home for a very, very long time.”

She noted that the Franklin Wawa store team is full of “Goose Pride,” the term that is used to describe the special culture at Wawa.

“They’ll be here 24/7, brightening days and fulfilling lives in our community,” she said. “Our associates go above and beyond to brighten days, from something as simple as chatting over the coffee bar or bringing hoagies to the local police station to honor our everyday heroes.”

Wawa’s news release stated that Langley will lead a Franklin store team of approximately 50 associates, all of which are new positions brought to the area through the development of the store. Associates in these full- and part-time positions will not only receive competitive salaries with hourly starting rate of $15 and health benefits, but once eligible, they will participate in Wawa’s employee stock ownership plan.

The store is fully equipped with built-to-order fresh food kitchen featuring Wawa’s signature hoagies and newest food innovations, such as the ever-popular, customizable burger;  award-winning Wawa coffee; the Sizzliä, Wawa’s hot breakfast sandwich; Wawa’s new line of specialty beverages (hot, cold, iced and frozen); the Wawa Bakery; and Wawa’s beverage line of dairy products, juices and teas, plus packaged goods and fuel services, among other amenities, the news release stated. In addition to the store-level experience, customers can access their Wawa favorites through mobile ordering, curbside pickup, delivery options and Wawa’s newest Catering Online offer where customers can order favorite Wawa foods for their upcoming events at www.wawacatering.com.

“We could not have opened this beautiful new store without the state and local officials and community leaders who have provided us the opportunity to continue to grow and invest in our communities,” Dowgielewicz said at the grand opening.

She introduced Franklin Mayor Frank M. Rabil, who delivered some remarks.

“I know it’s been some trials and tribulations to get this place open, but we’re so glad y’all are here, I tell you what,” he said. “This is really nice. It’s going to be a tremendous community asset. We look forward to a long relationship with you guys, and thank you all for deciding to be here in Franklin, Virginia. I think it bodes well for all of us when we think about the fact that you have a corporate entity like Wawa who’s willing to come to this area; (it) says a lot about the potential that we have here.”

Dowgielewicz also acknowledged the other six members of the Franklin City Council, as well as Franklin City Manager Amanda C. Jarratt.

Wawa Area Manager Alex Mwale helped facilitate some of the other activities associated with Wawa’s 2022 Day Brighteners Tour, including highlighting a local Community Day Brightener — Darnell Lee Jr., founder and executive director of Down the Middle Foundation.

Mwale announced continued support Wawa is giving to Special Olympics Virginia, and he also introduced the Hoagies for Heroes hoagie-building competition.

Area first responders from the Franklin Police Department and Franklin Fire and Rescue competed to see who could build the most hoagies in three minutes. Wawa concluded the competition, which the FPD narrowly won, by presenting checks for $1,000 to each department’s charity of choice — the Franklin-Southampton Area United Way.

Elected officials and Wawa local and corporate representatives gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to conclude the grand opening celebration.