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Oh Thank Heaven! The World Of 7-11

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There is nothing better than stumbling into a 7-11 at 2 in the morning for a crusty hot dog covered in liquid cheese. Their entire concept was made to order for guys like myself. 7-11 carries everything a person actually needs to survive in the world today: Beer, burritos, and cigarettes.

Lately though, I have noticed an alarming trend. The once ubiquitous 7-11 seems to be slowly disappearing from the urban landscape. This observation is based primarily upon what I have noticed locally, in the Seattle area. It could be that the Pacific Northwest is just not a good territory for 7-11, and everywhere else they are doing fine.

I doubt it though. 7-11’s own website is pretty telling. While championing the greatness of the company by citing recent achievements, one can hardly fail to notice the inevitable decline of this once legendary retailer.

For example, they proudly mention that in 2005, 7-11 finally reappeared in Manhattan after a 23 year absence. Just think about that one for a moment. We all know of the ridiculous rents and other attendant difficulties in operating a business in New York City. But for a company of 7-11’s stature to not have a store in the world’s retail showcase since 1982 is simply unbelievable.

There is also 7-11’s reappearance on the NYSE in 2000 to contend with. Again, the factoid raises more questions than it answers. How bad did profits get for the company to be removed from the stock market in the first place?

Finally, there is the international division of the corporation, which seems to be supporting everything. With a global presence of 28,000, compared to the US 5,700, clearly the good old USA ain’t what it used to be for 7-11.

A brief reflection on the history of the company makes their US decline even sadder. As the Southland Ice Company, they pioneered the idea of the convenience store in 1927. In 1946, 7-11 were renamed in honor of their unheard of extended hours, open from 7 until 11. Way back in 1963, 7-11 became the first stores to stay open 24 hours a day.

And since 1969, they have owned one of the greatest lines in advertising history: “Oh thank heaven for 7-11.”

In any comparison, this is a company that should be on a par with, or even exceeding the achievements of McDonalds.

This is not the case. Something went wrong years ago. 7-11 forgot who their customers were. They tried to go Yuppie, and it never worked. In fact, it is still not working. Their website touts new products such as Früt Coolers, and the Slurpucinno, of all things.

Good Lord! The old cliché, “You can not make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” was never more appropriate. I’m sorry, but Dr. Frasier Crane will not be shopping at 7-11 anytime soon.

7-11 needs to bring back the crap. Forget about all those high falutin’ attempts to capture the snob market. We need more sandwiches stuffed with mystery meat. Week old corndogs and “fresh” relish trays covered in flies should return. And by all means, those surly counter people are a must in the 7-11 experience.

Go back to what worked, 7-11. Losers like me are your core constituency. Embrace us. We have no interest in your new “Sugar Free Slurpee.” You think we’re drinking them for our health? Generic beer, cigarettes, and as much squirt-on cheese as possible make the world a happy place.

In your heart of hearts 7-11, you know I’m right. Your place in the world will be secure the moment you go back to being yourself.

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About Greg Barbrick

  • klondikekitty

    This is hilarious, thanks so much for writing it, Greg — God knows when I was living in an apartment in West St. Paul (MN), I made many late-night trips to a nearby 7-11 for those little pints of chocolate marshmallow ice cream, cigarettes and mystery-meat burgers — and no, you probably won’t see any celebs shopping in them any time soon . . . thanks for the laugh, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for 7-11s, so many times they were the only stores still open after 10 pm!

  • Greg Barbrick

    Thank you klondikekitty, (great name), I think we have all done the 7-11 gig, and sometimes are embarassed about it. Not us!! Have a good weekend.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Greg,

    The mere fact that you like the shit 7-11 serves does not make you a loser. Stop putting yourself down, man. Someone has to eat shit.

    The problem these C-stores face is not necessarily going yuppie. They face Wal-mart and Cub Foods and other places opening up 24/7 and including in them pathetic stands selling even more pathetic hot dogs and cheese food made into a liquid for guys like you who shy away from a real piece of cheese.

    It isn’t that I don’t like C-stores. When I lived in the States, I used to go to the C-stores attached to SuperAmerica gas stations (another problem 7-11 has – C-stores attached to gas stations) and buy candy bars of various kinds, and fill up the gas tank at all sorts of weird hours, just like you do. When we lived in St. Paul, the 7-11 near our apartment just couldn’t make it. There was no gas station attached, and there weren’t enough kids with spare change to ice cream cones, hot dogs with cheese or cigarettes for their “parents” (Cough, cough). So first it turned into a “Q” store, and then finally closed shop altogether. Last I saw, it was some kind of babysitting joint.

    Now that we live in a little village in the Samarian mountains in Israel, I could use a place to go to, a coffee shop, a bar, something to get me out of the house and away from this damned computer. The nearest C-store is attached to a gas station in Ofrá and everything in it is so damned expensive it is decidedly inconvenient. But at least there are no hot dogs with cheese spread – the stuff just ain’t kosher, and the owner, if he tried to sell it there, would be out on his ass.

    Good read, Greg!

  • Greg Barbrick

    Wow Ruvy, excellent perspective. As “liberal” as I am, I still write from such an insulated view of the world. Your comments made me think. And I am glad you enjoyed the piece.

  • http://joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    Dang, Kitty. I think I lived by that 7-11 in West St. Paul too.

    I don’t go, except the coffee rocks. It kicks butt over McD’s coffee and is much cheaper.