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FOLSOM, Pa. — Change is never easy as evidenced by one customer's letter to Wawa Inc. pleading the retailer to keep its first-ever store open.
In July, the convenience store retailer revealed plans to replace Store No. 1 with a bigger Wawa location that will rise just down the street. Wawa's first store opened April 16, 1964 at the intersection of MacDade Boulevard and Swarthmore Avenue. A new "Super Wawa" is slated to welcome customers next year at the intersection of MacDade Boulevard and Kedron Avenue, as CSNews Online previously reported.
The new location will still carry the Store No. 1 designation. However, in an open letter posted to Wawa's Facebook page, Jacqui Vivanco Hertlein of Houston asked the retailer to reconsider in what she termed "a granddaughter's last-ditch effort to keep Wawa 1."
"Wawa 1 is not just any Wawa, it is a part of my family. 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," she wrote.
According to Hertlein, the store has become a part of her grandparents' daily routine: her grandfather stops there every morning for a cup of coffee and the newspaper on his way to work. He keeps the same routine on weekends — but sleeps in two hours.
"Wawa 1 was an everyday outing for my Pop and Gramn. They know the people behind the counter and have made some everlasting friends that way. Like Carol, Mary Anne, or Betty and her red VW bug. I always loved and wanted her car," she wrote.
Wawa also plays an important part in Hertlein's family Christmas, she explained. "My three sisters and I always have to wait until Pop, Gramn and Aunt Julie arrived with the coffees and hot cocoas from Wawa 1 before we could come downstairs. I could tell when they arrived by the smell of the coffee wafting upstairs!" Hertlein recalled.
Sadly, her Gramn passed away two days before Christmas, but Wawa coffee and hot chocolate was there to comfort her family and help them get through the long days in the hospital, she added.
"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," she wrote. "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."
She noted that while the Folsom convenience store may be "just a grocery store" to company executives, the store is part of her family's history.
"So I am writing this on behalf of my Gramn. She always wrote a letter to Wawa 1 when she had a problem, and they always had a way of making it right for her," Hertlein wrote. "In honor of her, and for the love of my Pop ... this is 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."
Her post received 184 "likes," was shared 37 times and drew numerous responses — including one from Wawa itself asking her to private message the company so they could discuss it more.
Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce told NBC 10 that the 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 Bruce. "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 Store No. 1 remains fluid.