Philadelphia City Councilmember Mike Driscoll said during a Tuesday town hall that a recent meeting with Wawa executives left him concerned that the company will nix millions of dollars in investment and countless jobs, according to a report from the Philadelphia Business Journal. Though Wawa also has locations in multiple states along the East Coast, the company is headquartered in Greater Philadelphia, where it is one of the largest food retailers.
“They’ve had to invest in security… security doesn’t add anything to your bottom line, it takes away from your bottom line,” Driscoll said. “But without it, then you’re in deep trouble. So they are spending money, they’re losing money. The scariest part to me is one of the senior officials said, ‘We’re seriously considering moving out of the city of Philadelphia in our strategic planning, at least not to expand.’”
The remarks follow nearly 100 young people ransacking a Wawa location in northeastern Philadelphia last month. Viral footage shows the teenagers pushing over shelves, throwing items recklessly across the store, and shoplifting snacks.
“Wawa has invested a lot of money, as you know, into the city,” Driscoll continued. “They’ve already closed two Center City locations that they spent millions and millions of dollars on because of the lawlessness that was going on in their stores.”
Smash-and-grab robberies have plagued urban America at an alarmingly high level over the past two years. Beyond introducing new security efforts, convenience chains such as CVS and Walgreens are closing locations in cities like San Francisco.
Earlier this year, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz blamed the leadership of American cities for abdicating their duty to address crime and homelessness and announced that the company would shutter more than one dozen locations in multiple cities, including Philadelphia, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Portland.
“It has shocked me that one of the primary concerns that our retail partners have is their own personal safety,” Schultz said of conversations with employees in footage obtained by The Post Millennial. “And then we heard the stories that go along with it about what happens in our bathrooms, the issue of mental illness, the issue of homelessness, and the issue of crime.”
The locations, which were not unprofitable, may not be the last to close. “Starbucks is a window into America,” he continued. “We have stores in every community, and we are facing things… the stores were not built for. We are listening to our people and closing stores.”
Philadelphia witnessed a record 562 homicides last year, according to data from the Philadelphia Police Department, with murders currently trending slightly behind year-to-date figures. Earlier this year, state lawmakers launched an investigation into Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who has prioritized changes to the criminal justice system, such as lax bail policies and reduced prosecutions for certain crimes.
“We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness, we don’t have a crisis of crime, we don’t have a crisis of violence,” Krasner said at a press conference last year. “It’s important that we don’t let this become mushy and bleed into the notion that there is some kind of big spike in crime.”