Friday, April 13, 2012

This is one reason why I hate 7-Eleven opening on St. Mark's Place

The proximity to Gem Spa.

EV Grieve reader x said this Wednesday: "Woe to the Gem Spa! Will Slurpees and Big Gulps ever replace the egg cream?!?"

Something to think about as the city continues to change, and not always for the better... Earlier this year, we saw the hysteria that accompanied the false report that the Gem Spa had closed.

How much (or little) do you think 7-Eleven might hurt Gem Spa's business? I imagine 7-Eleven will pick off some tourists who want water or sodas... and see the familiar sign. And from people who might have grown up with a 7-Eleven and find the food comforting or kitschy ...

The Daily News checks in today with a piece on the 7-Eleven opening here. Per the article:

"This is not part of what our local community storefronts are," said Gary Steinkohl, who has lived on E. Ninth St. for 25 years and was adamant the chain store would "absolutely not" fit in.

St. Marks has gone from "some alternative lifestyle, anything goes, place to a more mainstream, citified street that's almost like any other," he added.

A 7-Eleven spokesperson told the paper that: "We would not open a store we didn't think would be of convenience to the neighborhood. We typically franchise a store to someone who lives close by, and we want franchisees to become a contributing part of their store’s community."

Meanwhile, I was reading an article in The Oregonian from last Thursday about 7-Eleven's march through the Portland metro area — 15 new locations are in the works. (The article points out that 7-Elevens are opening up practically on top of each other there.)

And how are the locals taking it?

"Since December, Portland residents with concerns about increased alcohol sales and corporations draining profits from mom-and-pop stores have been demonstrating and hand wringing about 7-Eleven."

And elsewhere. In Los Angeles, 7-Eleven plans to open 600 new stores across the region.

Knowing next to nothing about 7-Eleven's history... I checked out the chain's history page on the 7-Eleven website ... the store's beginnings are traced to 1927 in Texas... and, in 1946, they adopted the 7-Eleven name.

Per the website: "As convenience stores grew in the 1950s, the retail outlets then served as the 'mom-and-pop' neighborhood grocery store, the 'ice-house,' the dairy store, the supermarket and the delicatessen all in one location."

And there you have it...

Previously on EV Grieve:
7-Eleven continues to feast on the East Village; next up, St. Mark's Place

A quick East Village 7-Eleven inventory


And have you seen the hand-painted signs that V.H. McKenzie created for Tompkins Square Bagels...? They've been up in the shop now the past six or so weeks... Read more about them here.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, as long as you have all those NYU undergrads running around, the chain stores will always have business.

Dr Gecko said...

If people didn't patronize these kinds of places, they wouldn't be here. Seriously: are there any studies showing who the customers are? We all have impressions (tourists looking for something familiar, for example), but does anybody really *know*?

If we found out, we could stage interventions or, if necessary, kill them.

Marty Wombacher said...

Love that VH McKenzie sign, it says it all, just say no to 7-Elevens and chain stores! Cheers to Chris for putting it up in Tompkins Square Bagels!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Tompkins Square Bagels is expensive and caters to the new demographic, not the working class kinds of characters that the place said they would be for. The design is much more rigid and upscale than the other two bagel shops in Brooklyn called Bagel World. This is a Yuppie design and a yuppie crowd.

Matt said...

Yeah, you know what, though? 7 Elevens and Subways and Dominoses stay in business here not just because of NYU kids smuggling their suburbanness into the city or whatever. They stay in business in large part because they don't charge $8 for a simple sandwich, unlike some local businesses that I'd rather support. I'm not saying that I'll opt for that Subway sub -- more likely it's homemade PB&J for me -- but plenty of people reasonably make their food choices based on a simple calories-to-dollars ratio

Anonymous said...

I admittedly have gone to the Subway on Houston now and then cause the guy knows me and slips me and sometimes slips me a free drink when I'm broke.

However, I never got the appeal of this 7eleven takeover. I mean ALL 7eleven is, is a suburban 24 deli. Which NYC has, we HAVE deli's and we do it better than anywhere else.

An authentic New York deli is basically what 7eleven is trying to copy. It's like dominoes trying to open a storefront in Milan!
IT MAKES NO SENSE. It will also probably make no cents.

Anonymous said...

Dear Matt,
Subways and Dominos and Seven Elevenses can charge low prices because they buy their supplies from subsidized factory farms at bulk rate prices and pay their workers shit.

Keith said...

I find it funny that Tompkins Square Bagels wants everyone to support local institutions yet their Coffee is from Portland's Stumptown and all their other beverages are large chains. So, 7/11 is evil for selling snapple and tropicana, yet they are the crusaders of local business? Hirarious.

Matt said...

Oh, I'm not defending the chains -- they're a giant font of suck destroying small local businesses and decent jobs with them, feeding us crap food that makes us sick and paying people sub-living wage wages. But lots of people are poor enough that they need the maximum bang for their buck and the chains provide. I also don't begrudge any local restaurants paying East Village rents for charging $8 for a sandwich, but if it makes me balk and I'm doing okay, then the person who's really hurting in the pockets is going to Subway, which operates a volume business built on crappy products peddled by minimum wage-earning employees and can thus afford to charge $4.99 for a sandwich

Anonymous said...

you folks understand that franchises have successful business models because they reasearch the communities prior to investing in a opening there, yes? Unlike most mom & pops, which plug their life savings and simply hope for the best.

T.E.V.B. said...

Is this the first chain store ever on St Marks? What a disgrace.

Shawn Chittle said...

Let's all say GEM 7 times!

Let's all say SPA 11 times!



Anonymous said...


PinkBerry. Chipotle. Red Mango. The Gap (long closed). Chase. Dallas BBQ.

BagelGuy said...


When you don't have a clue as to what your speaking about, it's best to keep quiet. I don't have the time to debunk all of your points so I'll just address Stumptown. All Stumptown coffee sold on the east coast is roasted in Red Hook Brooklyn at a plant that employees about 25 brooklynites in a neighborhood that really needs the jobs.

Uncle Waltie said...

Hey Matt:
I'm totally with you on overpriced sandwiches. Just to clue you into the neighborhood: You can get a Ham and Swiss sandwich piled SKY H I G H on 2nd Ave. between 5th & 4th Streets on the westside of the Avenue for 5.50. I've never managed to eat it in one setting. In other words, it's possible to eat lunch and dinner for 5.50. Just sayin'

EVKiki said...

Is there any kind of community board that can be set up to fight the encroachment of soul-less chains and franchises in the EV? Would protests outside the 711 or new Starbucks on 1st Ave. have any effects? I hate watching the character of the EV become eviscerated bit by bit. And I'm passing so many empty storefronts now on Ave A that could have been filled with vibrant mom and pop business - must be the high rent the landlords want and the chance to sit and wait for an offer from a huge corporate chain... The West Village has been hit hard too with the closing of Grey Dog Cafe and Cafe Doma, both were busy successful businesses priced out. Is New York City being turned into Pottersville?

glamma said...

we need protection for small businesses and anti-chain zoning rules for our neighborhoods. period.
if you look at how these chains make money (see anon, 1:14) you would be outraged at the harm they cause to the whole planet, not just the fibre of our threatened and beloved east village.
DON'T BE SHEEP!!! use your brains, and your voices, to oppose chains (ESPECIALLY those that support and propogate the torture of innocent animals).

Anonymous said...

To the person or persons who think that 7-Elevens pay their workers poorly: How much do the "mom and pop" bodegas pay their workers? And let's be realistic, none of those bodegas and/or newsstands employ "workers" anyway...they are all family operations. At least 7-Eleven attempts to employ "outsiders", at least when they first open, and then after a while it evolves mainly into a family operation. That is because in reality, 7-Elevens are just "mom and pop" operations with a name brand to attract more business. 99% of 7-Elevens are franchised, which means that regular local people run them...