Wawa begins construction on first NC store

By on May 12, 2023

The OBX becomes a hot spot for convenience store expansion

With confetti flying, the groundbreaking for the first North Carolina Wawa was announced. (Photos by Kip Tabb/OBV)

With shovels tossing sand from a pile of dirt and a blast of confetti, the first Wawa convenience store in North Carolina broke ground for construction on May 12. Located in Kill Devil Hills at the intersection of Fourth Street and Croatan Highway, according to Wawa real estate project engineer, Payman Nadimi the store will open in the first quarter of 2024.

Slated to be slightly more than 6,000 square feet, the store will feature freshly made sandwiches, the company’s proprietary coffee, baked goods and other convenience items. Across the highway from the newly opened Target, and occupying most of the block between 3rd and 4th Streets in Kill Devil Hills, the location will also include an undetermined number of gas pumps.

The Kill Devil Hills location is the first of what Wawa’s Regional Real Estate Manager Sue Reardon told the gathering will be a strong commitment to the state.

“Over the next five years we plan to open 35 stores…in markets east of I-95…Overall we project at least 50 stores in North Carolina over the next eight to 10 years,” she said.

The next store slated to open in North Carolina will be in Elizabeth City, with a planned opening in the summer of next year.

Currently, the nearest Wawa location is on Hillcrest Boulevard in Chesapeake, VA, 61 miles away. Asked why Kill Devil Hills was chosen as the first store in North Carolina, Kim Dowgielewicz, Director of Store Operations said, “I think the family community connection here is incredibly important…That is who we are at the core of what we do…I think the other answer to that is proximity to Virginia. When you look at coming down and expanding from where we’re currently at, this is a natural progression for us.”

According to a number of Wawa representatives who spoke at the event, the company believes in a commitment to the communities where they are located. At the May 12 event, checks for $3,000 were awarded to Dare County Special Olympics and the Coast Guard Foundation with the funds to be specifically used for Station Oregon Inlet.

Dare County Special Olympics was awarded a check for $3000 by the Wawa Foundation. (Photos by Kip Tabb/OBV)

Wawa is the second national convenience store to move into the North Carolina market in the past month. On May 1, Maryland-based Royal Farms opened their first location in the state in Grandy.

Asked why the Outer Banks and the main transportation corridor to the area were the first North Carolina locations for both national chains, Jeff Lenard, Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives for the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), noted that he was not speaking for the companies, but suggested that based on his knowledge of how decisions are made, “They’ve probably spent quite a bit of time looking at current population trends and population growth. Where will the customer be five years from now.”

For Wawa, especially, he pointed to the company’s strong presence in Florida as a factor that may have played a role in moving into the North Carolina market.

“I think that they opened their first store in Florida about 10 years ago. Now they have as many stores in Florida as they do in Pennsylvania, the state [where] they were founded 60 years ago,” he said, adding that the company currently does not have any stores between Virginia and Florida.

“As they have opened stores in North Carolina, and other states, they are moving between Virginia and Florida,” he said.

President of the Currituck Chamber of Commerce Josh Bass believes that at least some part of the decisions by Wawa and Royal Farms to open their first North Carolina stores in Outer Banks locations has to do with visitor demographics.

“This area is more economically and culturally tied to Virginia and their markets than say Raleigh or Wilmington or Greensboro,” he said. “We have a lot of people that come from those markets. In the summertime. This is the highway from Philadelphia to the beach. People are familiar with these brands.”


  • Glenn

    A warm OBX welcome to Wawa & its team. I’m sure they’ll become a key member of the OBX community but let’s please remember to support the small, independent coffee, bagel and sandwich shops throughout our area.

    Friday, May 12 @ 6:56 pm
  • Robert

    I can’t believe you allow confetti to be blown all over the place, especially the OBX. Don’t we have enough trash and litter issues.

    Friday, May 12 @ 7:59 pm
  • PJ

    another brick in the wall into turning us into Va Beach south..progress sucks!

    Saturday, May 13 @ 6:47 am
  • Greg

    This is convenience store overload. Also inconsiderate to the people behind the store to clear all of the trees up to their property line. This is the fault of KDH not requiring a buffer.

    Saturday, May 13 @ 7:43 am
  • sandflea

    It’s a freaking gas station. I never thought people would get so excited over a freaking gas station; especially one that is going to add to the already over congested bypass that will statistically add to possibility of people getting injured or killed. I wonder if they will actually help to push the overpriced gas prices down (gas is $0.30-$0.40 cheaper literally just over the bridge) or just be another gas price gouger here on the beach.

    Saturday, May 13 @ 7:54 am
  • Bill

    That will make 3 gas stations between Target and 3rd Street. “Gasoline Alley”, for those who remember the Comic Strip.

    Saturday, May 13 @ 3:53 pm
  • Bathroom sandwich

    So the point is to make the area more like Pennsylvania so they’re more comfortable here? The road from PA to the OBX needs a Wawa along the way so people are Familiar. Sad. Folks come here for a change.

    If there’s a line out front of this gas station like target had I’m gonna laugh at everyone in line for having no lives.

    Bathrooms and sandwiches from a gas station. Big friggin whoopty do dah.

    Once it’s built it’s there forever. Town should do more to preserve! There’s no going backwards when it comes to building. Soon the height ordinances will change and taller buildings will start filling up lots.

    Saturday, May 13 @ 7:41 pm
  • charlie

    Oh golly gee wow… They will come in and have their price for gas a few cents lower than the other retailoers……For maybe 6 months……Then it’ll be gouge just like the rest…
    where will their stormwater run off run to????????

    Saturday, May 13 @ 11:23 pm
  • surf123

    Wawa pays well and the people I know who work there are happy to be there. For those who frequent the Hill Crest Pkwy (Chesapeake) Wawa might not know that the convenience store portion was closed for several months over a few winters ago. Wawa could have laid off the excess employees, but instead allowed them to work at different area Wawa’s at their same number of hours. Plenty of companies would dropped them.

    The food is quite good, fairly priced, and I know people who go there for a meal. A large number of menu items are better for you than any of the fast food restaurants.

    …and Wawa has nothing to do with destroying communities. They enter a market with one or a few stations bringing fair gas prices to all unlike the gougers in Dare County. For a reference take a look at the Wildwood, NJ Wawa that adopted their look to that of the Wildwood area. I would think they will do the same. Expect to see Sheetz moving in soon as they usually go together. Both are privately held and are what I would characterize as friendly competitors unlike Lowe’s and Home Depot.

    If I owned a traditional gas station or one with a crappy convenience store that does not serve a wide variety of made-to-order food I would be looking at selling. Also if my business model depended on gouging us over the winter then you are all but done. Wawa is a business we can use. The other recent additions Staples and Marshalls are something we can do without.

    Sunday, May 14 @ 8:30 am
  • Currituck Buckeye

    So… when are they going to begin construction on the WaWa-Target bypass? Maybe a jug handle through Colington Creek? I would imagine that Dunham to 3rd will be absolutely impassable on weekends (especially Saturdays) during season.

    WaWa will offer the cheapest gas and best snacks for all of the drivers arriving to or leaving the Banks. It’ll be lined onto 158. Target will offer the best “quality” retail supplies that were forgotten at home along with a reasonable supply of groceries. That lot is already full, off season.

    Monday, May 15 @ 10:56 am
  • Waltham

    Let’s all lose our minds about a WaWa, seriously, any of you still dreaming about the old days may as well move because it’s over. Suck it up or leave at this point.

    Monday, May 15 @ 6:36 pm
  • KHer

    Waltham, I agree with you. The OB of yesteryear is long gone. I was first here summer of ’81, it sure has changed a lot.

    I have seen folks who have been here a long time sell their house and move to slower areas. Also up to Currituck.

    Friday, May 19 @ 8:08 am