My drive from home to work takes about 40 minutes – and I pass approximately fifteen 7-Eleven stores. (That’s not even an exaggeration! I counted…) So how is it that this convenience store went from the dock of an ice house in Dallas, TX to a national symbol?
In 1927, John Jefferson Green decided to start selling bread, milk, and other necessities in the ice house where he worked. His thought that making these items available in convenience stores would help people cut down on travel time to larger stores. Then, in 1928, a manager named Jenna Lira brought a totem pole from a trip to Alaska and put it out front of her store. The attraction that it created led to the stores being named “Tote’m Stores.” It was also at that time that the company began adding filling stations to the stores.
The stores (barely) made it through the Great Depression and eventually, in 1946, the franchise’s name was changed to 7-Eleven to reflect the store hours of 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM. It wasn’t until 1963 that the stores began operating 24 hours a day, starting with an experiment in Austin, TX. Then 1965 introduced the Slurpee and to-go coffees, followed by Big Gulps and self-serving soda fountains in the 1970s.
For its 75th anniversary, 7-Eleven decided to celebrate by offering free Slurpees to all customers on July 11th (7/11). This tradition continues even today, bringing in folks of all ages to cool off with the ice treat.
7-Eleven has been a leader in its industry, paving the way for standards of all convenience stores. Offering staple foods, 24 hour operation, and to-go coffees helped make 7-Eleven the thriving store that it is today.