Where Wawa and Sheetz compete

Wawa and Sheetz, Pennsylvania's "two big gas-and-milk, Cokes-and-smokes, Tastykakes-and-store-built sandwich chains try not to fight. They're not like Ford vs. GM. Instead, they have mostly drawn lines and split the land between them. Like Comcast and TimeWarner Cable," I wrote in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer here.

 "Which you prefer depends on where you were raised: Wawa is Philly and the Shore from Jersey to Virginia Beach. Also Florida, since last year. Sheetz is Pittsburgh and the valley highways below the green ridges, all the way to Greensboro, N.C.

 "There's a family resemblance that dates to when the Wood dairy farm in Wawa, west of Philly, and the Sheetz dairy farm near Altoona, east of Pittsburgh, traded wagons for motor truck delivery at the dawn of the 1900s... 

"Wawa added stores last year in Tampa and Orlando. Why not Harrisburg or someplace closer? 'Go west, we're in Sheetz country,' Wawa's then-chief executive, Howard Stoeckel, said at the time. 'Sheetz is like us. We respect them. That's why we leapfrogged to Florida. That's an underserved market.'...

The chains used to be so close, the Sheetz and (Wawa's) Woods families shared information. "But in the 1990s, Wawa and Sheetz started converging, in a few towns like Bethlehem, Reading, and Ephrata, on the border of Italian-inflected Greater Philadelphia and German-legacy upstate Pennsylvania, and in Richmond and some other expansion markets. "

That's when "we realized we can't have these conversations anymore," Sheetz EVP Louis Sheetz told me a little wistfully.

A report from Bethlehem, one of the few places Wawa and Sheetz go head-to-head, here.

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