Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Big gulping on St. Mark's Place
New York magazine checks in with a feature on 7-Eleven(s), which features the scary headline: "The Big Gulp: How 7-Eleven plans to put the bodega out of business."
You know, 7-Eleven has this Business Conversion Program, "whose stated goal is to entice mom-and-pop shops into becoming 7-Elevens. Will bodegas be able to compete when they rarely even use scanners to keep track of inventory? When they hire extra labor just to sell sandwiches for a pittance? When they stock outdated and unpopular items like canned clam sauce and mackerels?"
Given this Business Conversion Program, "7-Eleven could plausibly claim to simply be giving moms and pops the means to take their entrepreneurialism to new heights: The 7-Eleven takeover may merely involve the same people we already buy Doritos from selling us bags of Doritos from a different supply chain. In that case, all that will really be lost are some cats and the possibility of occasionally persuading a clerk to sell a single cigarette rather than a whole pack — that, and another set of idiosyncratic storefronts, to be replaced, à la banks and pharmacies, by the nationally uniform palettes of corporate chains."
There's a lot more to read in Willy Staley's article here.
Meanwhile, we've been keeping tabs on the 7-Eleven on St. Mark's Place and the nearby Gem Spa. We worry that Gem Spa's business will be hurt by the recent arrival of the franchise across the way.
One morning, we watched a touristy couple in their 50s walk east along St. Mark's Place. They get to the side of Gem Spa and size up the various hats, sunglasses and what not that are for sale in the kiosks outside the store. They seem confused. As if they're looking for something that they can't find. The woman looks around and spots the 7-Eleven. They walk across the street and enter the 7-Eleven.
Another time. Two young men. 19? 20? 21? Figured one of the guys lived here; the other one was visiting. They stopped in front of the 7-Eleven. The visitor starts to move toward the door. His friend tugs at the other's sleeve and says — we swear! — you can never go in there. They continue walking and eventually head into Gem Spa.
What does this mean? Absolutely nothing at the moment. But we enjoyed the stakeout.
Previously on EV Grieve:
This is one reason why I hate 7-Eleven opening on St. Mark's Place