7-Eleven: Can Convenience and Aesthetics Co-exist?

September 2, 2011 40 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

With more than 40,000 stores in operation, 7-Eleven is making plans to agressively enter the Jacksonville market, including the Urban Core. A month ago, 7-Eleven's interest in the Shoppes of Avondale sparked a facebook debate on "Should convenience trump aesthetics?" Here is a new question for Jacksonville: Can convenience and aesthetics co-exist?

7-Eleven, Inc. Plans Aggressive Expansion

Many assume convenience stores must look like this.  However, these same people forgot or overlooked that their own community holds the cards to how these developments fit into the neighborhoods around them.  This community power comes in the form of local land use and zoning regulations. Photo courtesy of gasstationsusa.com

7-Eleven, Inc. is focused on growing its store base to expand its convenience offering in the U.S. and Canada.
While many retailers are contracting or limiting expansion, 7-Eleven is aggressively growing and expects to add more than 200 new stores this year. Plans call for the company to accelerate store development over the next several years through organic growth, acquisitions and its Business Conversion Program.
7-Eleven has a multi-pronged approach to growth that includes in-line, end-cap space in shopping centers, freestanding stores, urban locations in light industrial sites, city residential areas and suburbia.        
The company, which operates and franchises more than 6,200 stores in the U.S. and Canada, opened 170 stores in 2008.
“7-Eleven is looking to partner with property owners on new site development to determine how both parties can succeed for the long term and survive or even thrive in these difficult market conditions,” said Dan Porter, 7-Eleven’s vice president of real estate. “The company is investment grade and, therefore, an attractive tenant for landlords.”
7-Eleven’s latest growth vehicle is its Business Conversion Program, where the company looks for existing independent retail store operators who want to convert to the national chain and become a part of 7-Eleven’s franchise system.
The convenience chain leader invests an average of $280,000 into these conversions.  If the existing owner holds the lease or owns the building, they retain the responsibility for the real estate.  There are now 110 outlets that have been converted to 7-Eleven stores since the program started in 2006.
Said Porter, “7-Eleven’s system is more than just a trademark:  it’s the entire brand with a complete turn-key franchise system, including our proprietary retail information system, equipment, training, consulting support, a distribution network with daily delivery of fresh-foods, advertising, bookkeeping, payroll preparation, vendor payments and quarterly audits.”
Typical 7-Eleven stores have 1,800 to 2,200 square feet of selling space within densely inhabited areas that have strong daytime traffic.  The company also wants to be part of re-gentrification in its growth markets.
Among 7-Eleven’s growth markets are: New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Washington, D.C.; Tidewater, Va.; and Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Ft. Myers, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City, the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.
“7-Eleven is expanding amid the gloom of retail retrenching,” said Porter. “There is opportunity for our company to fill the void at once vibrant locations that are going vacant.   We are flexible in that we will buy a site and remodel, sign 10-year shopping center, building or ground leases with options to renew or purchase a site at the right location and build a ground-up store.”

full press release: http://corp.7-eleven.com/Newsroom/2009NewsReleases/7ElevenIncPlansAggressiveExpansion/tabid/307/Default.aspx

Combining Convenience and Aesthetics

Now armed with an assortment of transit-oriented development and urban design principles in their planning departments, 7-Elevens opening in Los Angeles and San Diego indicate that convenience and aesthetics can co-exist.

1. Broadway & 12th Street - San Diego

2. Little Italy - San Diego

3. 6th Avenue - San Diego

4. Cortez Hill - San Diego

5. Petco Park - San Diego

6. 848 7th Street - Los Angeles

7. 7th Street - Los Angeles

The 10 principles of urban design

1. develop inviting + accessible transit areas

2. reinforce walkability, bikeability and wellbeing

3. nurture neighborhood character

4. bridge the past and the future

5. produce great green streets

6. generate public open space

7. stimulate sustainability + innovation

8. improve equity + opportunity for all

9. emphasize early implementation, simple processess + maintainable long-term solutions

10. ensure connections

Source: http://urbandesignla.com/udprinciples.htm

No matter the neighborhood, context or the individual use, enforce these principles to each project from a land use and zoning level and we'll find that convenience and aesthetics can co-exist in Jacksonville.

Article and images by Ennis Davis.