The Wawa convenience store on South Main Street in Bel Air was closed Wednesday, according to a notice posted on its door.
In a letter to customers, Wawa president and CEO Howard Stoeckel said the store would close because it could not be expanded, renovated or updated to the company’s current business model. The location was the only Wawa in Harford County which does not sell gas.
A total of 18 employees would be affected by the store’s closing, and would be transferred to other local Wawa stores, according to company spokeswoman Lori Bruce.
Stoeckel said a new Wawa currently under construction will open on Bel Air Road in August.
But a new, independent replacement convenience store appears ready to slide right in to the former Wawa space. Another sign in the store’s window Wednesday read, “Coming Soon: StopBy.”
The Wawa store was a popular with students from nearby Bel Air High School, employees at the county government offices across the street, and patrons of Looney’s Pub North just a few doors down.
“I know they [Wawa] are closing all their stores that do not provide gas, but they did over $3 million in sales last year and are still walking away?” Bill Larney, co-owner of Looney’s, said in an e-mail.
“I am on the fence if it will be a good thing or bad thing for us. Positives are more parking spaces available for our customers and probably a better lunch crowd also. Also, whenever there is a problem there, we get blamed,” Larney said. “Negatives will be, I guess, the convenience for our customers to run in there on their way home and pick up something up.”
The complete text of Stoeckel’s letter to customers is below:
Dear Loyal Wawa Customers,
We are sorry to say that this store will be closing on May 26. For just over 10 years it’s been our pleasure to serve you at this store. You have truly embraced us as an integral part of your community–not just as merchants, but as friends and neighbors. For that we will always be grateful.
Closing this store is bittersweet. While we look forward to the future, it is difficult for all of us to say goodbye to the many friends we have come to know over the years.
Whenever possible, we try to expand or relocate our older stores to bring them up to date to support our current experience. That said, we hope you understand that we were simply not able to expand this store, renovate it or bring it up to our current operating model to support our ever-growing offer.
At Wawa, we pride ourselves on being a family. We are thankful that you have been a part of that family during the decade. Thank you again for 10 great years. We hope to serve you again in the near future at our other locations in the area including our four stores in close proximity (including our new state-of-the-art Joppa, MD store opened Feb. 2010 and another new store under construction on Bel Air Road due to open August, 2010.
Howard B. Stoeckel
President & CEO