"Wawa 1 is not just any Wawa, it is a part of my family" is how a woman's impassioned open letter to the Philadelphia-area convenience store chain begins. She's begging the company to keep its historical roots intact by not closing its first location.
And the chain, known for its coffee and "Classic" hoagies, said the letter has hit a nerve.
"Some of you may think that it is weird to include a local grocery store as an important part of your family, but the truth is ... it's more than just a local grocery store," Houston, Texas’ Jacqui Vivanco Hertlein said in the plea posted her plea on Wawa’s Facebook page.
Jacqui wants the 50-year-old Folsom, Pennsylvania Wawa location, known as "Wawa 1," to stay put.
"Wawa 1 has been there for my family in the happiest of times and the saddest of times. My family members pass many Wawas each day to and from work, but the fact of the matter is ... we only stop at one. The original. Wawa 1," Jacqui wrote.
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With so many of the old stores going away in favor of larger super locations that feature gas pumps, the Wawa 1 location at MacDade Boulevard and Swarthmore Avenue, which opened on April 16, 1964 is on the chopping block. The company plans to close the store early next year and open a state-of-art location a half-mile away. The new spot will carry the old store number.
"With the same Wawa associates and customer connections traveling to this new store," spokeswoman Lori Bruce said, "for us this will still be store No. 1."
But it won’t be the same for people like Jacqui who grew up going to the older deli-style Wawa dairy and food market with her "Gramn" and "Pop" before the company expanded to more than 600 locations with stores as far away as Florida.
"It has been our family's Wawa for over 45 years, and the news of it being knocked down and moved is tearing my sweet Pop's heart."
Jacqui said she lost her Gramn to cancer just days before Christmas. "Leading up to her last days, we were in the hospital all together. Sitting around thinking about fun family times. Sipping our coffees and hot cocoas from our Wawa 1."
She wanted to honor her Grandmother’s history by writing a letter — something Gramn loved — in a "last ditch effort to keep Wawa 1 alive, along with the new super Wawa."
"It is a piece of American history, Delco history, and the Vivanco-Clark-Baker-Hertlein family history."
Bruce said Jacqui’s letter struck a nerve.
"This letter touched all of us here at Wawa as the Folsom store will always hold a special place in our hearts," said the Wawa spokeswoman. "We will be reaching out to the family to connect with them and keep them informed as our plans take shape."
Bruce said the exact timeline for Wawa 1 remains fluid.
If the plan goes through as announced and Wawa razes its original home in 2016, one less person will checking out the new location.
"I know the new 'super' Wawa will be fantastic as all others are. Just know that you will have one less customer ... my Pop," she wrote. "He is refusing to step foot into the new Wawa or any other for that matter because they are not HIS Wawa. The other Wawas will never be what the ORIGINAL is and was."