7-Eleven Wins Over New Yorkers With Special Amenities

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7-Eleven Wins Over New Yorkers With Special Amenities


NEW YORK -- Setting up shop in an urban market like New York takes some out-of-the-box thinking for retailer 7-Eleven Inc.

"We have to stay on top of what the consumer wants," said Margaret Chabris, director of public relations at Dallas-based 7-Eleven. "Our ultimate goal is to provide products and services that solve the everyday problems for our customers in making their lives better. "

7-Eleven has been a familiar fixture in the city's four outer boroughs; however, it was not until 2011 that the retailer made a concentrated push into Manhattan. Since then, 7-Eleven has upped its count from eight to 37 Manhattan convenience stores. In the past six months alone, five new stores have opened, according to Crain's New York Business.

To attract local consumers, the convenience store chain is trying to become everything to everyone. For example, two years ago, 7-Eleven launched an innovation group focused on the digital experiences of customers. It began testing Amazon Lockers in April 2012 and expanded the concept to eight Manhattan c-stores.

"When a retailer comes to New York City, you have to win over the city and earn your spot -- you can't just come in with your normal concept," Mike Duda, chief executive of brand creative agency Johannes Leonardo, told the news outlet. "Utilities like the Amazon Locker and other things are something smart and extra that you can't get somewhere else."

7-Eleven is also testing digital innovations with firms such as KeyMe, an 18-month-old tech outfit based in Long Island City, Queens, that operates key-making kiosks. The kiosks are now in four 7-Eleven stores, where KeyMe pays to operate its four-square-foot space. Both companies are open to discussion about expansion. In six months, several thousand keys have been scanned and more than 1,500 lockouts solved, Crain's reported.

7-Eleven is also switching up its offerings with healthier food options, a craft beer selection and specialty coffee drinks.

"Urban store development is a big focus for us," Chabris said. "There's lots of opportunity."

Despite its efforts to fit into the urban landscape, 7-Eleven still has its critics in the city, Crain's New York Business reported. Blogs such as "No 7-Eleven" have staged rallies and organized boycotts, focused primarily on the Lower East Side, where a 7-Eleven store on St. Marks Place lasted just 18 months before closing its doors last year. A store in Inwood closed as well.

In addition, Andrew Moger, chief executive of real estate and construction management firm BCD, told the news outlet that landlords are not always interested in renting space to a 7-Eleven store. "The look and feel of it does very little to warm the ambience of a building," Moger said. "And the operating hours create more opportunities for noise and trash -- not necessarily an amenity to tenants."