A 7-Eleven opens once every three hours, according to Scott Teachenor, market manager for 150 of them around the city and Long Island. “We’re the largest retailer in the world,” he told residents of the Seward Park Housing Co-Op last night. “I’m kinda proud of that.”
At a sometimes contentious meeting to discuss the store’s second Lower East Side branch — slated to open next month at 403 Grand Street — co-op residents raised questions about everything from late-night robberies to the Kelvin temperature of the store’s light bulbs.
The biggest push was to include both kosher options and healthy alternatives to the chain’s traditional selection of snacks and Slurpees, which the residents unanimously expressed distaste for, although Teachenor announced that the fizzy frozen drink is kosher.
Just two members of No 7-Eleven — the group that’s fighting the “Pringleization” of the city — seemed to be in attendance. “Do you care that you kill local businesses, local convenience stores, when you move in here?” asked Ingrid Kellerman. “And secondly, do you care about the local community that does not want you here? Like at Avenue A, we do not want a 7-Eleven on Avenue A.”
The question drew some murmurs, and Florence Stein, a 65-year-old Seward Park Co-op resident, stood up and shouted at Kellerman, “Do you even live here? Why are you here? This isn’t Avenue A!”
After a bit of hubbub, Teachenor finally responded. “All I can offer you is anecdotal evidence,” he said, “but I haven’t really found that we’ve put local convenience stores out of business when we open.”
If anything, a new 7-Eleven challenges other businesses to “step it up” and compete to keep customers, according to a developer who was part of the team of reps. A few residents grumbled at this attitude, but Stein agreed that the prices at the bodega across the street were “astronomical,” and that the Fine Fare on Grand and Clinton frequently sold items that were past the expiration date. (Plus, do those places keep your spare key for you? Nope.)
The company has plans to make this new 7-Eleven a corporate training center, which sounds ominous but mostly means, according to Teachenor, that the store will be held to higher-than-usual standards of cleanliness and efficiency, and local residents who take jobs there will have fast-track opportunities to climb the corporate ladder.
“This is a gritty community by choice. We don’t want our bodegas to be bright and shiny,” replied a resident who also asked if the store would consider not selling pizza, in order to protect the local slice joints.
“I’d eat at your local pizza places before I’d eat my own pizza,” Teachenor responded.
Another major concern was that 7-Eleven offered the community nothing that the Rite Aid on Grand Street and Clinton, which is also 24 hours, doesn’t already provide. To that, Teachenor said 7-Eleven is faster and more convenient, and also makes an effort to stock “tailored supply product to local communities.”
“If you sell fresh lox, then you got me, okay,” one resident shouted out.
Following Stein’s outburst against her, Kellerman, along with her companion from No 7-Eleven, remained respectfully quiet for the rest of the meeting.
“No conversation is possible,” she said, after its conclusion. “We are dealing with a corporation. They haven’t taken any of this seriously.”