High Anxiety as 7-Eleven Takes Aim at Bodegas
The Wall Street Journal this week takes a look at 7-Eleven’s conquest of New York City, noting that some bodega owners feel threatened by the big chain that boasts more than 47,000 locations worldwide. The company is planning to open 30 new stores in the city during the next five years (there are already 100 or so 7-Eleven’s in the five boroughs). As we indicated last Thursday, a new outlet just opened at 142 Delancey Street. Another store is coming to 403 Grand Street.
The Center for an Urban Future is about to release its annual report tracking chain stores in the city. The survey will show that 7-Eleven is the 15th largest chain in New York (it was 26th largest in 2008). The chain has been aggressively wooing bodega owners, trying to cajole them into converting their small businesses to 7-Eleven franchises. Recently officials from the company met with members of the Bodega Association of the U.S. Association President Ramon Murphy told the Journal, “The main thing is, let’s educate our members, let’s be prepared for competition. If you want to be 7-Eleven, great. You don’t want it, I’ll help you, too. We want to keep the bodega in New York.”
The new location on Delancey Street is corporate-owned but the company hopes a franchisee will eventually take it over. There have been information/recruitment sessions in several neighborhoods. One such meeting on the Upper West Side, the Journal noted, was a bust. No one showed up. No bodega owners have signed on in New York, although several other business operators have enrolled in the program. Some of those who are resisting are starting to feel the heat:
“They’re gonna close me,” said Sedki Ali, the owner of 374 Deli on Eighth Avenue. The 7-Eleven is just a few blocks away from the one concerning Mr. Yu. He said since 7-Eleven opened about a month ago, his sales have been cut in half. “I usually order cigarettes every week, now this is the third week I still have them,” he said. A similar refrain is heard in the East Village. Near a two-month-old 7-Eleven close to the once counterculture corner of St. Mark’s Place and Second Avenue, bodega owners say they saw an instant hit to their bottom line when the store opened, with sales decreasing on everything from coffee and soda to hot dogs. “We are trying to do different things,” said the owner of Gem Spa, across the street. “We have to add. We are thinking of adding something. We don’t know what to add.”