7-Eleven is a chain of convenience stores in many countries throughout the world. It is open 24 hours a day and markets itself as a place to buy items quickly and close to home. The old days of borrowing a cup of sugar from your neighbor are long gone. Today, a cook who finds she is missing an ingredient is much more likely to run to the local 7-Eleven to purchase the item than to knock on a neighbor's door. With convenience, of course, comes a higher price. The groceries, food and other items at 7-Eleven are often sold at a much higher price than these items can be found for elsewhere.
The 7-Eleven chain began in Texas in the 1920s. The Southland Ice Corp., a local ice distributor, began to sell groceries such as milk and eggs along with their ice. They found they could charge a higher price for these goods because they were conveniently located. As Southland realized the value of convenience, they launched a chain of small grocery stores across the Dallas area. The stores were open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., which gave the store its name. The chain continued to add stores, and by the 1950s had more than 100 locations. In the 1960s they began to stay open 24 hours. Today, 7-Eleven is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with locations all over the world.
Stores such as 7-Eleven are categorized as convenience stores. They sell products including groceries, beverages, convenience foods and a small amount of household items. Because they are located in residential neighborhoods, they can charge premium prices on these goods. People will pay this price because shopping at these stores is quick and efficient, and saves them a trip to grocery stores, which may be farther away with longer lines.
Over time, the 7-Eleven chain has developed its own private label items that are readily associated with the stores. The most popular is the Slurpee, a frozen beverage that is sold all over the world and comes in a variety of colors and flavors. Another item 7-Eleven is identified with is the Big Gulp. This is a 64-ounce fountain soda that is self-dispensed by customers. As an extension of this product, the store offers the Gulp and the Super Big Gulp, which are smaller and larger sizes of the chain's signature drink.
The company has been working steadily during the 21st century to transform all its locations to franchises. Under 7-Eleven's franchise agreement, the franchisee and the corporation split profits 50/50, with a term of 15 years. Interestingly, the franchise license is not transferable from the original applicant, so all fees and expenses are forfeited if the franchisee quits before the 15-year term is up. Most locations outside of the United States were set up from the beginning under this system.
There is a standard belief that shopping at convenience stores such as 7-Eleven is uneconomical. Items including milk and bread may cost 30 to 50 percent more at a convenience store than they do at a grocery store. If one were to calculate the total cost of a shopping excursion, including the cost of gas and wear and tear on a car, shopping at neighborhood stores such as 7-Eleven is often cheaper than shopping at the grocery store. This is because of the fact that these stores are purposely located within neighborhoods and residential areas.
Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.