Looks like 7-Eleven's plan for global domination is coming along quite nicely! After opening a shiny new outpost on the Bowery in October—complete with all the $1 pizza slices, Little Debbies and flavored coffee a late-night drunk desires—the ubiquitous 24-hour convenience store has planted its satanic Slurpee seed in St. Marks. The new location will become fully operational at 35 St. Marks Place between 2nd and 3rd Avenues by the end of this month. Its infamous red, orange and green stripes are already affixed to the building's facade, on top of the old Jas Mart awning.
The impending arrival of a 7-Eleven on block that once belonged to counterculture heroes like Abbie Hoffman, Lenny Bruce and Leon Trotsky isn't sitting so easily with locals. St. Marks is no stranger to chain stores of late—there are about a dozen chains lining 2nd and 3rd avenues on 8th, including a Chipotle, Pinkberry, Dallas BBQ, 2 Bros Pizza and Japadog, the Canadian Japanese-style hot dog spot that opened in January. But fans of old-school St. Marks fear opening yet another suburban-esque spot in the area will ruin what's left of its alternative roots.
"It's cool to steal shit from [7-Eleven], and it's cool to panhandle outside, but for the general idea of St. Marks, it sucks," said Lucy Weisthes, an LES resident. "It's ruining the sanctity of St. Marks." Local merchants have also noted the tension between the influx of chains and St. Marks' anti-establishment attitude. "St. Marks has a history and culture, and getting franchises doesn't fit with the culture," the owner of Gem Spa, the 24-hour newsstand that's stood on the corner of 2nd and 8th for 80 years, said. "All the specialty stores are here. Every one has its own identification."
But while there is some speculation that the addition of a 7-Eleven will harm local independent businesses—Gem Spa, for instance, is known for selling stellar egg creams that could potentially run into competition with a Cherry Coke Slurpees—not everyone's shaking in their boots. "I'm not too worried about it in terms of business," Jeff McDonald, the deli manager at St. Mark's Market, said. "There was a Gap around here, a Quiznos, another [7-Eleven] just opened on the Bowery...they seem out of place. They don't seem to last."
7-Eleven plans to open over 100 locations in the city by 2017. Here's to late-night snack food surviving the Mayan apocalypse!