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    New Wawa Store Has Competitors Worried

    Businesses around the chain's new location in Williamsburg, Va. are concerned about a gas price war ensuing.

    YORK, Va. -- Given its reputation for using low gas prices to pump up sales in its convenience stores and build brand loyalty, Wawa has some business owners in the Williamsburg, Va. area concerned about its new store opening there.

    A Wawa gas station and convenience store that's been in the works for more than three years will open next month, intensifying the competition for drivers' dollars along a main corridor in the area, the Daily Express reported.

    The new Wawa is slated to open Dec. 14, according to a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania-based chain. It's located in York County on Merrimac Trail at the junction with Penniman Road. That part of Merrimac Trail already is home to a number of places that sell food or gas, including the Short Stop Deli, a 7-Eleven convenience store and Queen Anne Dari Snak. A BP gas station, a CITGO station and a Farm Fresh Fuel Express are also within a half-mile of the new Wawa, the report said.

    Owners of some of these businesses have been concerned about the chain's arrival ever since Wawa bought the land in December 2002.

    "It's going to hurt, but what are you going to do? That's business," said Johnny Rash, longtime owner of the BP station. But he also emphasized that he will hold onto customers by continuing to offer full-service pumps and car repair services.

    The Merrimac Trail location is Wawa's second in the Williamsburg area. The new Wawa is part of a push by the company to expand its presence in Virginia. According to published reports, the chain plans to have 51 locations in the state by year's end, up 15 from 2005, as well as up to 90 stores in Virginia by 2010.

    This new Williamsburg-area location will have enough gas pumps to serve 16 cars at once. The company spokeswoman told the Daily Express it also will feature Wawa's usual food offerings and one of the chain's newly-designed beverage centers, selling milkshakes, iced coffee and other drinks. It's not unusual for the chain to take about three years for the development of a new store, the spokeswoman noted.

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