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Iconic convenience store company 7-11 goes Yuppie. Sales immediately plunge.

Oh Thank Heaven! The World Of 7-11

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.

About Greg Barbrick

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