Tuesday, December 3, 2013

One 7-Eleven Down...

The 7-Eleven on St. Mark's Place has closed. EV Grieve was the first to report the thrilling news, noting that "Workers on the scene confirmed...that the store has closed."

I had to go look for myself, to relish the joyful moment. 



A peek inside the store reveals that the place is almost entirely emptied out. I'd like to think this shuttering was in response to the East Village's fierce rejection of the monster chain and its attempt to zombify our local bodegas. According to the Post's report on the closure, even the young people shunned it!

Immediately after opening, this 7-Eleven started threatening the future of Gem Spa across the street, a store that has been with us since at least the 1950s, and much beloved.

I had a nightmare that 7-Eleven had forced Gem Spa to close. In the dream, I stormed in and demanded of the cashier, "Are you the owner? Are you the fucking owner?" I screamed at him about how the closing of Gem Spa was his fault and told him, "I hope you fucking die. I hope you die a thousand deaths. I hope you get cancer!"

(It was just a dream. In my waking life, I hope the cashier goes on to a long, healthy existence at some other job.)



Meanwhile, the front window of this 7-Eleven was smashed--twice. Then the activist group "No 7-Eleven" formed, primarily fighting the 7-Eleven that opened further east on Avenue A. They held rallies, ran bodega tours, started petitions, and more--all to fight the invasion of this chain and others like it.

Years ago, Manhattanites defeated 7-Eleven. The chain tried to make it here, but no one shopped, so they failed, closing their last store in 1982. But then Manhattan changed. In the summer of 2005, the first 7-Eleven in 23 years returned, opening at 23rd and Park Avenue South. Many people were thrilled. They lined up to buy Slurpees. Since then, dozens (?) of 7-Elevens have followed.

Along the way, too many bodegas have fallen.



I don't know what the closing of this 7-Eleven means. I want to believe it's a watershed moment, a turning point, a sign that the people of this city are changing again--changing back to people who care more about local businesses than about "convenience."

But I would not (yet) dare to be so hopeful.

Also, when a Subway or a Dunkin Donuts or a Verizon opens in this emptied spot, I don't want have to eat my words.





15 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a NYC-based small business owner, I can appreciate the desire to see a locally-owned bodega instead of a national franchise (even tho said franchise store is likely owned locally).

What I wonder, though, is if both places are selling national corporate products (Coke, Lays Chips, Little Debby, etc. etc. etc.), and those corporations are getting the bulk of the revenues, how great of difference does it really make?

It would be one thing if there was a compelling argument that the bodega would sell exclusively local brands, but I'm not seeing that in Manhattan delis (the boroughs are a little different).

Seriously, what local quality might the bodega bring (especially considering the bodega owner and 7/11 franchisee are likely very similar) besides a non-franchised exterior signage?

Anonymous said...

Yeah. That last sentence. Save the celebration until you see what pops in there next. I would take a 7-11 any day over yet another TD Bank.

As for the "watershed moment" aspect, I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case, but on a very localized level. The East Village has always been a sort of "Bridge of Khazad-dûm" for gentrification. And it may be that it's finally hit a sort of "Peak Chain Store" for the current population of the neighborhood, though that may not last forever. I don't see any evidence of that on a larger level, though. Nor do I expect it. Also, Saint Mark's Place is kind of a unique animal. I would be very hesitant to apply anything that happens there to something that happens on, say, West 25th Street.

You can celebrate if several of them close in rapid succession in several different neighborhoods without any new ones opening. THAT would be a sign of a shift in taste.

Unknown said...

There was one on West 93rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue that closed overnight back in August. I won't miss it.

Mitch said...

Another one closed on the corner of 93rd and Amsterdam. Maybe things aren't going as well as hoped in the grand plan.

Phil said...

It didn't close because of the protests. It closed because no one wants it. I live right across the street, and every time I passed it, it was empty or nearly empty, ALL of the time. Even on nice weekend nights when the street was packed. It wasn't just because the food's awful in a neighborhood with tons of great cheap food. More importantly, on stock items like soda it's prices weren't as good as the wonderful St. Marks Market a few doors down and other local shops. The only people who shopped there were a few tourists and NYU students who shop at 7-11 back home and didn't think to look elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I prefer the clean 7-11s over the dusty and filthy Bodegas. Most of the Bodegas are fronts for illegal activity anyway. Where's the outrage over the insane rents in the East Village. Only yuppie scum can afford to live there anyway.

Anonymous said...

Right, the better than _____ argument. If a bank were to close, then the argument would be "I prefer a 7-11 than a bank."

If the landlord weren't so greedy, then the option wouldn't have to be a bank, chain, condo, or another luxe bar or lounge. Such blindness and vapidness from people with trust-fund or venture funded suburbians.

Tom A. said...

don't the bodegas just go to costco and sell those products illegally? If these were high end stores, you'd be thrilled, but since it caters to to 'those' people, you hate them.

John Logsdon said...

The people on here who defend 7-Eleven's or prefer them are obviously not New Yorkers. I'm sorry but the small variety of products a 7-Eleven carries would never compare to what you can find at local bodegas. And "Anonymous" - to say they all are fronts for illegal activities just smells of racism (I suspect you feel places owned by minorities and employing minorities MUST have illegal activities. Glad to see 7-Eleven slowly fade. It will NOT be missed.

Anonymous said...

Great dream, Mr. Moss! Maybe we'll close the curtain on the exact words, Gentle Reader, but we sure love and depend on the passionate DEDICATION! Fantastic.

Lord Loveaduck said...

Go, Jeremiah! This is a success story for the little guy, for the neighborhood, for the nutrition-minded, body and soul. Yes, you Cynics please pout and bicker -- I keep thinking of Ed Sanders' song, "Refuse To Be Burnt Out"! Sure, it's late in the day, sure Manhattan is overpriced but c'mon, Humans! The Time is always NOW, so get with yr brethren and sistern and let's see if DiBlasio can't give us local control over global corporatism. Or is that just too Utopian for y'all? Here's to No7-Eleven! Here's to Loisaida! Here's to refusing to be burnt out!

Anonymous said...

7/11 probably didn't lose a dime on this. The franchisee probably lost his life savings though after falling for the 'what could go wrong' promises of 7/11. Probably 8 south Asian families put their whole savings into it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeremiah -

I don't know how many of your readers will be affected by this but thought I'd share anyway...

http://greenpointers.com/2013/12/03/this-is-your-last-chance-to-stop-greenpoint-landing-last-meeting-get-active-do-it-now-125/

laura r. said...

the bodegas are better all around. first, no tacky sinage, freezing aircondioner, depressing floresent light, strange people who dont care. bodegas are owner operated, they are usually a nice family, its cozy. some may be dirty some emaculate. on lex/102st, the owner was nice enough to bring up several gallons of water, i was staying next door. the products are better, i have bought small bottles of oliveoil etc. i would stop in every night to pickup some fruit, say hello. its no ones business what they may do "on the side"- so what? i hate to think of the disgusting things the global 7/11 corp does.

Anonymous said...

John Logsdon smells of butthurt