No 7-Eleven group spreads awareness about neighborhood bodegas

UPDATE: 6:30 Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. 7-Eleven director of corporate communications Margaret Chabris said that not all Manhattan 7-Elevens were closed during Hurricane Sandy, and some did provide services for residents. She also cited 7-Eleven’s $450,000 contribution to Hurricane Sandy disaster relief.

On Feb. 2, a group of 60 East Village residents toured local stores and restaurants as a part of the Bodega Walk in an ongoing protest against the expansion plans of 7-Eleven franchises in the neighborhood.

The No 7-Eleven group, which organized the event, is rallying against an announcement of plans by 7-Eleven to open 100 new stores in Manhattan by 2017. They wanted to spread awareness both to East Village inhabitants and to local bodegas who are unaware of the plans.

“The purpose of the bodega walk is to connect with the people and businesses in our community and make them aware 7-Eleven is planning a strategic, corporate takeover of our neighborhood,” said Liberation Iannillo, the social media strategist of No 7-Eleven.

Iannillo explained that 7-Eleven openings choke out local convenient stores, bodegas and delis, and have a negative impact on the character of the East Village.

“People travel to the East Village because it’s a unique, culturally rich, diverse neighborhood,” he said. “They don’t travel here for Big Gulps and Slurpees.”

View Bodega Walk in a larger map

However, Margaret Chabris, a native of Greenwich Village and director of corporate communications for 7-Eleven, said 7-Eleven convenient stores can provide a valid service to the neighborhood.

“Our goal is to meet the convenience needs of people in that immediate trade area,” she said. “We believe that area is under -served. So we would hope to bring something clean, modern, efficient, yet something that the community can benefit from. We also have a special downtown, urban format for our stores that lends itself to Manhattan.”

Chabris also cited the fact that each 7-Eleven, although part of the franchise, is individually owned, and therefore the company does provide support for small business owners.

However, Robert Galinsky, a bodega walk organizer, said alt-hough each store may be independent, they are still under the guise of a larger corporation, which causes a disconnect with the store and local community.

“During Hurricane Sandy, the bodegas were open and giving away coffee and giving away food,” he said.  “The 7-Elevens were closed. It’s part of that corporate mentality, ‘We better check with corporate headquarters to find out.’ When you have an individual bodega, you check with yourself, you check with your heart, you check with your community. That’s what this is about.”

Eileen Myles, another organizer of the No 7-Eleven group and NYU English professor, further explained how franchise stores undermine a community.

“They don’t stand with the neighborhood on summer nights or in disaster,” she said. “They don’t hold your keys for friends, give you credit, know you and your pet for years … Bodegas and their employees are our neighbors and our friends.”

Loretta Owens, a freshman in the Silver School of Social Work, said that although she favors smaller stores, she sometimes finds their locations inconvenient. Still, she supports the No 7-Eleven movement.

“I feel as though communities have the right to feel upset and rally against the construction of 7-Elevens because that promotes the mass integration of commercial stores which tend to drive out smaller businesses,” Owens said.

No 7-Eleven is planning on hosting bodega walks every two weeks to continue spreading awareness. The next one will be on Feb. 16 at noon.

Emily Bell is deputy city/state editor. Veronica Carchedi is city/state editor. Email them at state@nyunews.com.

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Comments

11 Responses to “No 7-Eleven group spreads awareness about neighborhood bodegas”

  1. jackie on February 5th, 2013 5:00 pm

    I live in San Mateo, California, where a property developer bought a property that had once been designated for non-conforming use as a corner market/deli. They were advised that the non-conforming use had expired and the property reverted back to residential, but 7-Eleven nevertheless proceeded with their plans and opened their doors for business smack in the middle of a residential block of homes. We (San Mateo residents) organized and rallied against 7-Eleven and our City backed us and…

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  2. Mark R on February 5th, 2013 7:59 pm

    After Sandy Manhattan was without power from 40th Street down for 4 days. The 7-Elevens ABOVE 40th Street may have been open, as were all businesses because they had power up there, but the 7-Elevens BELOW 40th Street were NOT open.

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  3. Freedom69 on February 5th, 2013 9:31 pm

    Over the years, myself and thousands of others have seen the family business crushed by 7-11 and their ilk. Impersonal, overpriced, and attempting to change the face of New York and not for the better. The heart of NYC is it’s people – those who are born here and those that come from other countries to make new lives for themselves; we welcome them and the diversity they bring, not to mention daring to dream the ‘American Dream’. Go away, 7-11 and take your petrified hot dogs with you!

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  4. Shawn G. Chittle on February 6th, 2013 12:25 am

    I don’t recall any 7-Elevens open during Hurricane Sandy on the Lower East Side (East Village).

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  5. blue glass on February 6th, 2013 12:42 am

    Margaret Chabris is wrong when she says: “Our goal is to meet the convenience needs of people in that immediate trade area,” she said. “We believe that area is under -served. So we would hope to bring something clean, modern, efficient, yet something that the community can benefit from.”
    It is not convenient to have a plethora of chain stores all selling the same junk by folks entirely driven by profit. WE ARE NOT UNDERSERVED. We still have some long term neighborhood stores that will…

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  6. Claire on February 6th, 2013 1:25 am

    Chabris pr ploy worked! For now I am too skeeved out by the thought of besuited corporate drones throwing out words like The Hip Hop, Graffiti, Sexy the City, and New Urban Slurpee during their meeting to design a SPECIAL DOWNTOWN URBAN FORMAT, to point out what an unbelievably convenient place the EV already is, or how the 7-Elevens were NOT open during the black-out, OR that their plans to open ONE HUNDRED new store over the next four years isn’t to serve us…it is to choke competition.

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  7. Claire on February 6th, 2013 1:28 am

    “TO SERVE THE COMMUNITY”…IT’S A COOOOOK BOOOOOK!!!!

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  8. Mark R on February 6th, 2013 2:27 am

    Margaret Chabris gets paid to rehash the same statements over and over again. In an article in Convenient Store News “East Village Residents Rally to Fight 7-Eleven’s Arrival” dated 1/18/2013 she is quoted as saying “this part of the East Village is underserved” and “7-Eleven will provide attractive stores.”

    In an article in Stapleton Connect “Stapleton 7-Eleven: Responses to questions from 7-11 corporate office” dated 11/23/2012 Margaret Chabris says “Our team is looking forward…

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  9. Mark R on February 6th, 2013 2:29 am

    …to creating a neighborhood store there that is attractive” and “this location is currently underserved.”

    The fact remains the downtown 7-Elevens located in the blackout zone were not open during the blackout. It’s ludacris Margaret, who lives in Texas, would issue a statement like this.

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  10. Queenie on February 6th, 2013 2:52 am

    Margaret, noone said all Manhattan locations were closed, we are talking specifically about the 7-Elevens in the blackout zone. Those 7-Elevens were closed. If you know otherwise, please specify the locations that were open in the blackout zone. Thanks.

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  11. rob hollander on February 6th, 2013 5:56 am

    The 7-Eleven stores in the storm zone were NOT open during the blackout. Can’t think of a single chain store that was open downtown. But I got batteries at my local bodega at his regular, good price off Avenue B.

    It’s like our neighborhood streets are being sold to huge remote corporations – even remote corporate landlords. 7-Eleven plans 100 more stores in NYC? There’s something gone very wrong in this town.

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