They’ve taken the eastern United States and Florida by storm. Now, Wawa stores are invading Alabama.

Wawa’s first location in Alabama opens on Thursday, April 25, in Fairhope. The site is at 18968 Greeno Road. Doors open at 8 a.m.

The store will offer free coffee and free tee shirts to the first 250 customers.

You can have your photo made with Wally Goose, Wawa's mascot.

The official Wawa schedule for the April 25 celebration:

 8:00 a.m. Doors open with t-shirt giveaway for the first 250 customers and FREE coffee all day long​
 10:00 a.m. Ribbon-cutting celebration featuring:​
 Intro to our new team ​
 Parade of Wawa history​
 Community partnerships ​
 Hoagies for Heroes competition 

What exactly is a Wawa store?

It’s not a Buc-ee’s. Smaller and without as many features.

It’s not a QT, known for its quick in and out, but it's close.

It’s not your typical convenience store that lacks personality and is not distinguishable from other convenience stores.

Wawa stores could be described as quick-service food marts or gas stations with a personality. They have been popular and highly successful in the eastern United States and Florida. Now, they are invading Alabama.

The first Wawa in Mobile broke ground November 2 at Cottage Hill Road and Sollie Road in west Mobile. Four other Baldwin County locations are in progress and will follow shortly.

While the famous and popular Buc-ee’s giant convenience stores serve primarily interstate highway traffic, Wawa is geared toward locals, often the going-to-work folks. You will not see them along interstates.

Buc-ee’s has been unusual and interesting enough to become a destination site. People who do not particularly need to buy anything will plan a trip to Buc-ee’s just to see it and its offerings. And more than once — return visitors.

You hear, “Have you been to Buc ee’s?” Will that question be asked about the new Wawa stores in Alabama?

Another Alabama location will be in Mobile, at the intersection of Schillinger Road and Old Government Street Road in the highly developed West Mobile corridor.

Three more locations in the Wawa invasion of Alabama will added in Baldwin County with Wawa stores, making four Baldwin sites:

  • U.S. 98 and Baldwin 44 (Twin Beech Road) in Fairhope

  • Alabama 181 and Alabama 104 in Fairhope

  • U.S. 98 and Johnson Road in Daphne

  • Alabama 59 and Baldwin 48 in Robertsdale

The Alabama plan for Wawa is to open 40 stores in the new Alabama region, which includes the nearby Florida Panhandle.

In addition to being a curiosity and a new quick-stop option, Wawa is a major job creation engine with 35 workers for each store. Starting wages are $15 an hour.

Ten years ago, there was no Wawa in Florida. Today, there are 250 stores and 10,000 employees.

There are 950 Wawa stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington, D.C. Adding the new Alabama region will put Wawa at just under 1,000 stores.

The name “Wawa” is intriguing. Folks’ first thought is that Wawa is the baby talk rendition of ‘water.’ That’s not it. The home of the Wawa chain and the very first store was in Wawa, Pennsylvania. Simple as that.

But how did the small township of Wawa, Pa. get the unusual name? After a Canadian goose. The unincorporated township was home to a local dairy, the base for the first Wawa store. The Wawa Canadian geese fly there.

As a result, Wawa stores developed their costumed mascot, Wally Goose. You can see Wally Goose and get a photo with him on April 25.

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

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