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PRINCETON, N.J. — Age has not slowed down Wawa Inc. Seven months after marking the 50th anniversary of its first convenience store, the Wawa, Pa.-based chain continues to boost its portfolio — this time with a new store next to the Princeton Train Station.
The retailer's latest New Jersey store replaces the former Wawa serving Princeton University. The change was seamless: the old store closed its doors at 8 a.m. Nov. 21, the exact moment the new store opened its doors. The train station location serves the college community.
The new Wawa features the retailer's latest design prototype, which focuses on foodservice with a "kitchen-forward" design and a full-service beverage area. The store also has architectural features unique to the Princeton location, including details designed to coordinate with the transit center, according to NJ.com.
"This is really a historic day for Wawa, and for those of you who don't know, we do trace our roots back to New Jersey," said Peter Gilligan, Wawa's vice president of real estate. "Throughout this long history, we have constantly strived to reinvent ourselves to better serve our community and our customers."
Wawa has been a part of the Princeton University community for 40 years and will install a mural of Nassau Hall in the new store at the end of December, the news outlet reported. Nassau Hall is the oldest building at Princeton University, dating back to 1756.
"We're really proud of the connection we've built over the 40 years," said Jim Shortall, director of store operations. "At Wawa, we like to think of ourselves as more than just a store. We really think of our community as a family."
During the Nov. 21 grand-opening ceremony, Wawa President and CEO Chris Gheysens said he is really excited for his company to be a part of the Princeton community. He explained that the connections the employees create when 1.5 million customers walk in and out of its doors are fundamental to understanding the Wawa ethos, according to The Daily Princetonian.
"We know how good of a darn community it is and school; so if we are going to associate ourselves with anyone with a rich history and Princeton, this is it," Gheysens said.
Peter Crowley, president of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, believes the new Wawa store is going to help drive the transit area of the university. The store is adjacent to Princeton University's $330-million Arts and Transit Center.
Wawa Inc. owns and operates more than 650 convenience stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and central Florida.