Wawa Inc. (Wawa, PA), which today operates more than 550 convenience stores in five states, is the subject of a new book from Arcadia Publishing (888-313-2665; www.arcadiapublishing.com). The book spans parts of three centuries in detailing Wawa's evolution, beginning with its origins in the early 1800s as a manufacturer of cast-iron water pipes and stove plates.
Part of Arcadia's Images of America series,
Wawa (ISBN: 0-7-385-3631-8; $19.99) was penned by historian Maria M. Thompson and Wawa's "minister of magic" Don Price, with a foreword by outgoing Wawa CEO Richard D. Wood Jr. By cataloging Wawa's history, the book examines a company that has continually adapted to meet the needs of customers. It traces the company's roots to English Quaker Richard Wood, who arrived in Philadelphia in the 1680s to escape political unrest, and travels to present day to reveal a multi-billion-dollar retailer that sells tons of "Sizzlis" ( breakfast sandwiches) and "Shortis" (hoagies).
Wawa does a fine job of filling in the gaps and chronicling the company's evolution through the years, growing beyond its manufacturing roots into more "universal" businesses like dairy production and retailing. The first Wawa Food Market, the book explains, opened in 1964 in the small Pennsylvania town of Folsom. The first store was so successful that Wawa built two more stores and quickly paid off a $50,000 loan it had taken out to pay for the development. Wawa continues to reinvent itself today, through new stores, new foods and new uses of technology.
In 2005, Arcadia will feature several more companies in the Images of America series, including Gund and Polaroid. The publishing company is actively commissioning titles to feature the illustrated histories of other prominent U.S. companies, says Arcadia Editor Kaia Motter. Will another key player from the convenience retailing industry be among them?