7-Eleven Loves San Francisco

Other retailers vacating good locations, company says

SAN FRANCISCO -- 7-Eleven Inc. said that it plans to open more stores in San Francisco as part of its push to add more than 200 stores nationwide, according to The San Francisco Examiner. As reported in CSP Daily News yesterday, the retailer is "focused on aggressively growing its store base to expand its convenience offering in the United States and Canada."

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 [image-nocss] suburbia. (Click here for previous coverage.)

Plans in San Francisco call for at least four new stores next year, said the report. The company, which operates and franchises more than 6,200 stores in Canada and the United States--with 11 stores currently in San Francisco and 350 in the greater Bay Area--told the newspaper that it hopes to open as many as 15 stores in the Bay Area, half of which will likely be converted from mom-and-pop shops that have struggled to stay afloat. The average 7-Eleven spends $280,000 to convert a c-store to its brand, the report said.

"We are seeing that a lot of retailers are either contracting or closingvacating what we believe are good locations," 7-Eleven spokesperson Margaret Chabris told the paper. She said the company did not specify exactly where it plans to open new stores, but named downtown, light-industrial areas, shopping centers and suburban neighborhoods as ideal locations.

"We are very flexible," Chabris said, adding that prospective spaces are ideally between 1,800 and 3,000 square feet.

The Dallas-based company's expansion may not be well-received by city officials, the Examiner said. Late last year, 7-Eleven was barred from opening a store in Chinatown after the city deemed it would alter the community's unique character. At the time, then-Board of Supervisors president Aaron Peskin said he wanted to avoid turning the neighborhood into "Cookie Cutter Anywhere, USA."

Chinatown was the third San Francisco neighborhood to ban "formula retail"defined as any business with at least 11 U.S. storesfollowing similar chain-store bans in North Beach and Hayes Valley, the report said.

The resistance, however, will not stop 7-Eleven from trying to open more stores in San Francisco, Chabris said. "We hoped to have one in Chinatown," she said. "We love San Francisco. We think there is a lot of opportunity. Our stores do well there."