Store wars: UDF, Wawa race to finish at booming Butler County intersection

LIBERTY, WEST CHESTER TWPS. — A race of sorts is now going on at a local intersection with hometown United Dairy Farmers (UDF) breaking into the lead so far against East Coast chain Wawa’s first store in the region.

Separated by Liberty Way at eastern corners of the Cincinnati-Dayton Road intersection, the two convenience store chains both are building new stores at the high-profile location on the border of Butler County’s booming Liberty and West Chester townships.

UDF’s original store at the southeast corner was recently leveled as the convenience story company works to build a new, larger outlet. Giant gas storage tanks were installed underground last week as site work continues.

Wawa grabbed headlines earlier this year when it announced it would build its first southwest Ohio store at the long-abandoned northeast corner, which had once seen a Dairy Mart and a pool supply company but in recent years was an empty building.

Both companies reflect the rapid development of recent years along Liberty Way — near its Interstate 75 interchange — as businesses and residential housing springs up along the road that also serves as the border between the two townships.

Last week saw crowds flock to the region’s first Shake Shack restaurant nearby adding to Liberty Way’s destination appeal.

Cincinnati-based UDF is a long-time fixture throughout the region and beyond and company officials said they welcome the coming retail battle.

“We look forward to competing against them in our home market,” said Mark Wilson, spokesman for United Dairy Farmers. “Wawa is a well-run and respected convenience store brand.”

Wawa currently operates in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington D.C. It has 1,000 locations currently and is considered a staple on the East Coast of the U.S.

The Wawa site recently saw earth movers leveling out its site and an adjacent plot, which used to be a small car wash outlet.

Wawa officials did not respond to a request to comment on their coming store, which they previously said is planned to open in 2025.

Wilson said there is no set date yet for the planned opening of UDF’s new outlet.

“While we cannot give an exact date of when the store will open as construction and supply chain timelines can change slightly, we look forward to our store opening as soon as possible.”

The new UDF, he said, will be 6,300 square feet, which is about 2,000-2,500 feet more than the old store.

When asked if the incursion of Wawa into UDF’s historical turf prompted the tear down and rebuild, Wilson said: “On an ongoing basis, we continuously evaluate our current stores as well as look for completely new sites across our market. That approach has resulted in several new rebuilds including stores in Mason and Sharonville to name a few.”

“This store was originally built well before some of the new developments in the area — Liberty Way interchange, Liberty Center, UC Hospital West Chester, Children’s Hospital, new apartments/homes, etc. This location has always performed well and given the overall growth in the area, it was an ideal location for a new/updated store,” said Wilson.

Joe Hinson, president and CEO of the West Chester/Liberty Chamber Alliance, said the two new stores are no surprise when one considers the overall booming growth along Liberty Way and beyond.

The winners, he said, will ultimately be consumers.

“The corner of Liberty Way and Cincinnati-Dayton Road not only supports customers from West Chester and Liberty Townships, but this ideal location is also aligned with traffic coming off of the busy Butler County Region Highway from the north, and customers from Fairfield Township going east on Hamilton Mason Road,” said Hinson.

“Competition provides our residents with options, and the benefits come in many forms — lower prices, higher quality goods and services, and a greater variety to choose from.”

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