7-Eleven's Out-of-Box Experience

Retailer builds Dallas store in five days with help of Project Frog

DALLAS-- You've heard of the big-box store. Get ready for the store in a big box. 7-Eleven Inc. "built" a new convenience store in Dallas in just five days. A more appropriate word would probably be "assembled," said a Forbes magazine report featuring Project Frog, the San Francisco startup behind the 7-Eleven location's speedy construction.

The store, in the convenience retailer's home town, opened in December, according to a report by KERA Radio.

Project Frog is "dragging a 19th-century industry into the future with stylish, energy-efficient buildings that can be built in less time and as much as 50% cheaper," Forbes said. The five-day assembly time is at least a month faster than for a conventional "stick-built" store, it said.

Click here to view an image of the new store.

The magazine described the transition from box to store as it happened:

"The construction site consists of tidy stacks of flat-packed, prefabricated wall units, roof panels and other jumbo components trucked from Michigan and labeled and numbered like parts for a giant Ikea Akurum cabinet. What look like supersize bento boxes contain neatly packaged plastic bags of bolts, clips and other hardware. A pair of bathrooms, complete with toilet roll dispenser and baby-changing table, are being lowered by crane into the 3,000-square-foot store's shell, where they'll be plugged in to the plumbing."

The six-year-old company, which raised $30 million in venture backing from General Electric and other investors, has built 16 buildings totaling 75,000 square feet and has 300,000 square feet in the pipeline for 2013, said the report. Revenue quadrupled in 2012 to more than $25 million, and the firm is nearing profitability, thanks largely to outsourcing its component construction to contractors.

"We design a common chassis or platform for different types of buildings that people can reprogram according to their needs," CEO Ann Hand, a 44-year-old former executive with BP, told Forbes.

According to the startup's website:

Project Frog created a high performance, wood-based retail structure for 7-Eleven. The first of its kind, the convenient store is designed specifically for high-traffic use. The column free space with a 18-foot-high ceiling in the center section allows for a versatile interior that feels good to be in and to buy in. Perfect for retail stores of this type nationwide, the interior and exterior flexibility of the Frog system allows clients to capture the essence of their brand, allows for optimal merchandise placement and spatial efficiency while also providing significantly more natural daylight than traditional buildings through the use of clerestory windows and skylights. Opening in December 2012, the c-store will include energy-efficient systems throughout the building, an office, bathrooms, storage, checkout area, coffee and beverage bar and have a gas station on site. Located in Dallas, the 3,000-square-foot structure was successfully assembled in five days by the build team led by Project Frog and Lend Lease.

Project Frog "is on a mission to revolutionize the way buildings are created by applying technology to overcome the inefficiencies of traditional construction," it said. It provides component buildings that assemble easily onsite, giving architects and builders a fast and cost-effective way to create buildings.

7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses more than 9,700 7-Eleven stores in North America. Globally, there are approximately 49,000 7-Eleven stores in 16 countries. During 2011, 7-Eleven stores worldwide generated total sales close to $76.6 billion.