Updated at 12:20 PM
At exactly 8 AM this morning, the old Wa shut its doors for the last time in over 40 years of business. Simultaneously, the new Wa opened up for the first day on the job.
At 7:50 AM at the new Wa on 152 Alexander Street, around 20 students, community members, and one high schooler waited patiently outside in the cold. Around 7 passersby tried to open the door before 8, only to find them locked. It’ll only be a few minutes, said store workers.
One high school student got there a tad bit earlier and discovered the glass doors locked. “I knew it opened today, but I thought it was already 8 o’clock,” said Auggie Precioa, an eighth grader at John Witherspoon Middle School.
Finally, at 8 AM the two double glass doors were opened by a pair of smiling employees and the first flood of customers passed through. The new Was already fully staffed even though the old Wa was open until just as they opened the new one.
With double the floor space and all new equipment, the new Wa certainly feels more like a regular WaWa than the old one did. No more ads on the outside or crumbling white walls. Although, the old black, orange, and white stained glass window that hung over the old Wa was transported to welcome customers in the new location.
Coffee will be free for the next three days to celebrate the opening, said employees. To make sure opening day went smoothly, the Wa brought in employees from nearby WaWas.
Kyle Berlin, a freshman in Whitman, was one of the students who got up early and shivered in the cold to be one of the first Wa customers. ”I kind of had this internal debate. Am I going to go to the old Wa at 8 when it closes or come to the new Wa at 8 when it opens?” he said. ”It’s kind of a philosophical question.”
He went to the old Wa first, which “was kind of sad,” and then he came to the new Wa which is “glossy, new, and industrial, which is also kind of sad,” he sad. Even if it’s sad, he was happy to be a part of Princeton history.
The grand opening ceremony of the new store took place at 10 AM, 2 hours after the opening of the store. Based off the attendees, it’s clear that everyone — Princeton and WaWa alike — take the Wa very seriously. Chris Gheysens, CEO of WaWa Inc., welcomed everyone to the new store and commented that the store’s bathroom was “beautiful,” while Mayor Liz Lempert appreciated that the store sold kale and quinoa salad.
A state assemblyman, the director of community and regional affairs for the University, employees of the store, members of the Princeton Fire and Police departments, and students in the Student Volunteer Council all partook in the ceremony.
And of course, WaWa’s mascot, Wally the Goose, was jumping and dancing the whole time.
Oh, and this is Wally’s butt.
Now that the new Wa is officially in business, it seems it’s time for the old Wa to start the deconstruction process which will eventually lead to its demolition. As UPC reporters headed back to campus at 9 AM, the old Wa sign was already being taken down.