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Wawa to close first store opened 50 years ago

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Wawa plans to close the first convenience store opened by the chain in the Philadelphia suburbs a half-century ago.

Susan Bratton, Wawa's regional real estate manager, says the company plans a larger store in Ridley Township with six gasoline islands on a four-acre site on Route 420, about one-third of a mile away.

"It will still be store one for us, even though it's a new store," Bratton told the Delaware County Daily Times.

The new development was opposed by township commissioners last year, but court-ordered negotiations resulted in approval with certain conditions, including extending the property's berm, lowering the lights, fencing, brick and stone construction and limiting the hour of tractor-trailer deliveries.

"We will be open by the spring of 2016. People are going to be so excited," Bratton said.

The fate of the original building isn't up to Wawa, since the company doesn't own the land where the store is located, she said.

Grahame Wood established the original outlet in Folsom on April 16, 1964. The company now has more than 640 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.

"We are opening stores in Florida, basically every week," Bratton said.

Officials hope to include historic photos of the original store in the new building.

"It's important that people know this is where we started," Bratton said.

Interesting facts about Wawa: "Wawa" is a Native American word for the Canada Goose that was found in the Delaware Valley over 100 years ago. The company's original dairy farm was built on land located in a rural section of Pennsylvania called Wawa. That's why it uses the goose on Wawa's corporate logo.

The company was actually started as an iron foundry in New Jersey before the owner took an interest in dairy farming.

He started delivering milk and when interest in home delivery wained in the early 60s, he built the first store.

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