7-Eleven's new lab store

PHOTO GALLERY: Inside 7-Eleven's New Lab Store

7-Eleven logo

IRVING, Texas — 7-Eleven Inc.'s newest location in Dallas is a lab store and experiential testing ground where customers can sample and purchase its latest innovations in a new store format.

Highlights of the lab store include made-to-order smoothies and aguas frescas, street tacos with handmade tortillas, baked-in-store cookies and croissants, a growler station that pours local craft beers, and both patio and in-store dining areas.

A grand-opening celebration took place March 22 at the store, located at Sylvan|Thirty, a retail and restaurant development on Sylvan Avenue, north of Interstate 30. This is less than two miles from the original Southland Ice House in Oak Cliff, Texas, where 7-Eleven pioneered the convenience retailing concept more than 90 years ago, the company noted.

"Convenience retailing is light years away from the days of bread and milk being sold from ice docks in 1927, and the industry is changing at a faster rate than ever before," said Chris Tanco, 7-Eleven's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "7-Eleven stays at the forefront by pushing the boundaries and being unafraid to try new things. This new lab store will serve as a place to test, learn and iterate new platforms and products to see what really resonates with customers and how we can use those learnings to influence future store designs."

The Dallas lab store is one of six new test stores that 7-Eleven plans to open around the United States in order to develop new brands and ideas, as Convenience Store News previously reported.

The Dallas lab store is also the first 7-Eleven location to include a Laredo Taco Company taqueria, and the first Laredo Taco Company location in Dallas. 7-Eleven acquired the taqueria brand along with its purchase of 1,000 Stripes convenience stores from Sunoco in 2018.

Laredo Taco Company is known in South Texas for its handmade tortillas that are made from scratch in-store daily, as well as its salsa bar with on-site, daily prepared salsas, guacamole and pico de gallo.

The menu features tacos, quesadillas and plate meals that include specialties not typically seen in quick-serve Tex-Mex restaurants, such as carne guisada, barbacoa, picadillo bistec, carnitas and breakfast tacos made with hand-cracked eggs.

Other innovations featured at the lab store include:

  • Made-to-order coffee drinks, cold-pressed juices, smoothies and agua frescas that can be customized in a full-service beverage format. Additionally, there are novelty beverages on tap, including nitro cold brew, kombucha and organic teas.
  • The Cellar, an alcove dedicated to an expanded selection of wines and craft beers, plus a nearby growler station featuring a rotating selection of local craft beer, cider and ales on tap. At the growler station, customers can enjoy a draft beverage with their meal on-site or fill a growler to take home.
  • A cold treats bar with frozen yogurt, ice cream and multiple toppings.
  • Cookies, croissants and more items baked in-store daily.
  • Digital initiatives designed to enhance the shopping experience, such as scan-and-pay technology that allows customers to skip the checkout line and pay for non-age-restricted purchases on their smartphones.
  • Indoor and patio restaurant-style seating in the Laredo Taco Company area of the store, as well as bar seating across the front windows in the retail space.

Many new items in the store's "innovation station" are limited-time offerings, according to 7-Eleven.

"A lot has changed in retail and continues to change rapidly, especially the shopping experience," Tanco said. "This lab store is customer-focused and will explore new ideas that weren't even on the retail radar a few months ago."

Based in Irving, 7Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 67,000 stores in 17 countries, including 11,800 in North America.