7-Eleven’s history started in 1927 when Jefferson Green decided to start selling milk, eggs and bread from the ice house where he was working. Green, known to everyone as “Uncle Johnny,” saw the opportunity to earn extra income from the people at his workplace, the Southland Ice Company.
Green saw that there were customers every day who ran out of ‘staple food’, and so he carried these items and sold them to customers. Green sold a lot of these staple foods, particularly on Sundays, when grocery stores were not open for business. Joe Thompson Jr., one of The Southland Corporation’s founders, saw the possibilities and an opportunity in what Green was doing. Not long after, Thompson started selling the same staple food at other Southland ice-dock locations. Eventually, a total of twenty-one retail ice-docks were put up. This was then the birth of convenience retailing.
In 1928, Southland ice-docks started to sell gasoline, recognizing the fact that more and more people used automobiles and that gasoline was becoming an important commodity. By 1936, more and more people would prefer to go to the ice docks to shop for groceries, primarily because they offered staples, curb service, canned goods, and sometimes ice-cold watermelons.
In its early years, Southland’s convenience stores were known as Tote’ms, referring to how customers “toted away” the items that they bought from the store. In 1946, the store’s name was changed to 7-Eleven, promoting the stores’ operating hours, which is from 7 AM until 11 PM, everyday of the week. It was also during this period that 7-Eleven stores were opened outside Texas in other states such as in Florida,Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Eventually, 7-Eleven stores started operating 24-hours a day as more and more people would come to the store during very late hours.
Soon after, the Slurpee® was introduced by 7-Eleven, which became another reason for customers to keep returning. Before the semi-frozen beverage became Slurpee®, it was first named “Icee”. 7-Eleven also introduced Coffee-to-Go, which became an instant hit with its customers. By 1974, there were already 5,000 7-Eleven stores all over the world.
Headquarters: Dallas, Texas
Ownership Type: Private
Employees: About 27,866
Demography: Retail food consumers