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GREEN ISLAND, Taiwan -- This week's opening of the first 7-Eleven on Green Island, a major tourist destination, marks a breakthrough in the provision of fresh food products on the island. Each bottle of milk must go through at least eight transfers in the transportation chain before arriving at the Green Island 7-Eleven.

Taiwan's Liberty Times reported that on its first day of business, the Green Island 7-Eleven attracted some venerable old Green Islanders who haven't set foot in a convenience store in their lives. Young and old crowded the store to see the new 7-Eleven and breathe a bit of air-conditioned coolness, take in the sights, and experience the exotic quality of such a previously unknown store.

Even with more than 3,000 residents living on Green Island, plus the 400,000 tourists who visit the island each year, for a long time the island has seen only one supermarket -- run by an agricultural board -- and five or six traditional shops. As a result, the company had received a number of letters from people on the island asking that a 7-Eleven be established there.

Although planning for the Green Island 7-Eleven began six years ago, there are only two cargo boats calling at the island each week. In addition, the island has no specialized freezer or cold storage equipment, so it was impossible to keep the shop's frozen foods and chilled products at an even temperature until their arrival at the store. These obstacles created some thorny problems for planners.

According to the Liberty Times report, since the franchisee planning to open the new location was none other than Taidong County executive Hsu Ching-yuan's younger sister Hsu Ching-tai, and she and her husband were convinced that opening a store on Green Island was a good business proposition, they were able to lobby airlines to cooperate with cargo and passenger services to Green Island, and get shippers to install refrigerators and cold storage bags on boats.

Unipresident Enterprises also set up dedicated cold storage facilities in Taidong to hold the store's daily allotment at 4 degrees C. The company put out five times the normal cost for establishing a 7-Eleven on the main island of Taiwan to open the Green Island location, and has already succeeded in supplying fresh milk and bread to the store on a daily basis.

Green Island's 7-Eleven operates 24 hours a day, but the day's fresh milk and bread, frozen goods and newspapers are available only from 6 to 9. For consumers who forgot to pay their credit card bills, a quick stop at the store allows them to take care of the chore, but the Green Island 7-Eleven is temporarily unable to supply box lunches, 'fantuan' [glutinous rice wrapped in leaves] and sandwiches, which must be stored at 18 degrees C. Nor can it handle pre-purchases or express courier services as branches on the island of Taiwan do.

In keeping with Green Island's character as a tourist destination, its 7-Eleven stocks waterproof underwater cameras, shave ice machines, special Green Island T-shirts, aboriginal glass work, kerchiefs and hats, and other handicrafts, to satisfy every conceivable desire or need of the tourist.
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