Long Island 7-Elevens Are Sales Leaders

Why are area residents so comfortable with this chain?

7-Eleven Long Island

MONTAUK, N.Y. -- The top-grossing 7-Eleven in the United States is near the easternmost tip of Long Island in Montauk, N.Y., where surging demand from tourists and astute business strategies have driven sales, according to a Long Island Newsday report.

Long Island 7-Elevens dominate the top ranks of the chain-store franchiser's U.S. business. Last year, eight of 7-Eleven Inc.'s top 10 locations by sales were in Suffolk County, N.Y., the Dallas-based company said. It has 208 stores on the Island among about 7,800 locations in the United States.

"I think if you've got eight out of the top 10 stores in an area, that's a very, very strong market for us," 7-Eleven spokesperson Margaret Chabris told the paper.

Before the three-year-old store on Montauk Highway took the top spot last year, two stores in Southampton had swapped the No. 1 title for many years, franchisee Chris Stephens, who operates the Montauk and East Patchogue stores, told the newspaper. "It's a Long Island thing," he said.

Industry analysts and local franchisees cite some key reasons for the 7-Elevens' success here: inexpensive coffee, sparse competition, choice locations and a long local history that has ingrained daily visits into Long Islanders' habits.

"7-Eleven has been here since the '60s, and they really have a monopoly on the convenience store market," Gregg Carlin, a retail real-estate broker and senior vice president at CBRE's Melville office, told the paper. "There are no other chains that do what they do here. Long Islanders are very comfortable with 7-Elevens."

The stores are still controversial, however, on the East End, where year-round residents are passionate about preserving the bucolic character of their communities, said the report.

And one recent embarrassment for the chain was the federal raid on 10 area 7-Elevens last summer on charges of exploitation of undocumented immigrant workers. None of the stores implicated was among the chain's top 10, the report said.

East Hampton and Southampton Town have laws that limit the size of commercial buildings and prevent certain illuminated signs, making it difficult for some big-box stores and chains to enter the market. Those roadblocks, however, sometimes work to 7-Eleven's advantage.

"It's so difficult to develop supermarkets out there that there's a dire need for convenient shopping, and 7-Eleven obviously benefits from that," Jayson Siano, a managing principal at Garden City, N.J.-based retail brokerage Sabre Real Estate, told the paper.

Business practices that target specific local demand play a part in 7-Eleven's stores in the area, as well, the report said.

Many franchisees have credited coffee as the biggest draw for customers and the best product in terms of margins. The chain's peddling of coffee actually has its roots on the Island, where 7-Eleven purports to have introduced coffee-to-go to the mass market in the 1960s.

For some, the appeal of 7-Eleven may also be explained in its sentimental draw for Long Islanders, the report said. Smithtown native Lance Pauker, 23, a writer at the Thought Catalog blog, recently included the 7-Eleven experience in a post on the best things about growing up on Long Island.

Click here to view the complete L.I. Newsday report.