When it’s “summertime & the living’s easy,” we live for the little things. Like Free Slurpee Day.
Every year we celebrate Free Slurpee Day, also known as 7-Eleven Day, on July 11th internationally. Since 2002, eager 7-eleven fans have lined up to get their free signature Slurpee on this special day. & By celebrating this seemingly trivial day, we also support North America’s (alleged) oldest convenience store chain.
Convenience stores play a very important role in the development of American culture. It’s no surprise these corner stores are also cornerstones for modern american fables & folklore. The National Association for Convenience Stores (NACS), defines a convenience store as, “a retail business with primary emphasis placed on providing the public a convenient location to quickly purchase from a wide array of consumable products (predominantly food or food and gasoline) and services,” but since their establishment the one standard model has been expanded to six.
Let’s take a moment of our time to understand how we got to where we are now:
- 1927 – Uncle Johnny Jefferson Green converts an ice-house in Dallas Texas to a convenient stop to shop for locals & transients by selling everyday grocery staples.
- 1937 – Southland Ice Co. founder Joe C. Thompson Jr. spreads Uncle Johnny’s idea throughout Texas & the resulting chain is named “Tote’m Stores,” as they were stocked with items you could tote away by hand.
- 1946 – The company re-brands as 7-Eleven to reflect the new everyday store hours of 7am-11pm.
- 1950s – 7-Eleven expands past Texas into Florida, Maryland, Virginia & Pennsylvania
- 1952 – 100th store opens
- 1963 – the 24/7 hours model is adopted
- 1964 – 7-Eleven becomes a franchise
- 1965 – The Slurpee & coffee-to-go are introduced
- 1967 – “Dance the Slurp (The Wildest… The Kookiest… The Grooviest… The Slurpiest) / The Strange Things (That Happen to the People Who Slurp Icees at 7-Eleven)” 7-Eleven’s first and only official track is released on vinyl album (7″, of course)
- 1969 – 7-Eleven goes international with stores first opening in Canada
- 1970s – More self service options & the Big Gulp are introduced
- 1980s – 7-Eleven crosses the seven seas into Australia, Sweden, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Guam, Malaysia and the Philippines
- 1984 – 10000th store opens
- 1990s – Healthier food options are introduced
- 1991 – 7-Eleven acquires the phrase “brain freeze”
- 1998 – The Slurpee brand is expanded to include signature freezer bar pops & bubblegum
- 2002 – The first 7-Eleven Day is celebrated by giving free Slurpees to customers as a thank you
- 2003 – 25000th store opens
- 2007 – The first Slurpee King is crowned in Washington State
- 2010 – 40000th store opens
- 2015 & 2016 – “Bring Your Own Cup” promotions featuring $1.50 Slurpees prompted 7-Eleven to mandate that “containers had to fit through a cardboard measuring hole to ward off anyone thinking of bringing in a trough….kettles, fish bowls, teapots, and even a plastic sled. One consumer [actually] brought an inflatable swimming pool” (source).
- 2016 – 60000th store opens
- 2019 – “As of March 31, 2019, there were a total of 68,236 7-Eleven convenience stores in operation around the world,” with 20,904 in Japan, 11,299 in Thailand, 9,485 in South Korea, 9,340 in the United States, and the other 17,208 in the other 13 countries 7-Eleven exists (source).
- July 11th, 2019 – You can get a free small Slurpee today from 11am – 7pm (hence the early post today) at every 7-Eleven location. You can even get a second one for free this year. #SlurpLife
DID YOU KNOW?
According to the NACS, the standard 2,400 sq. ft. model is a thing of the past & there are now six officially recognized formats that fit in the category “convenience store”:
Kiosk (<800 sq. ft.; located at gas stations to supplement revenue slightly; no additional parking; sells only fast-moving pre-packaged products, such as beverages, tobacco & candy; hours vary greatly)
Mini Convenience Store (800-1200 sq. ft.; located at gas stations to supplement revenue greatly; no additional parking; sells pre-packaged goods, limited grocery & limited food service; open 18-24 hours)
Limited Selection Convenience Store (1500-2200 sq. ft.; located at gas stations to provide equal revenue as the pumps; some additional parking; sells pre-packaged goods, some grocery & some food service; commonly open extended hours)
Traditional Convenience Store (2400-2500 sq. ft.; independent with a growing number located at gas stations; on-site customer parking and / or pedestrian access; sells a wide variety of pre-packaged goods, grocery & food service options; commonly open extended hours with many being 24 hour)
Expanded Convenience Store (2800-3600 sq. ft.; independent with some located at gas stations; extra on-site customer parking; sells an expanded variety of pre-packaged goods, grocery, food service and fast food options; commonly open extended hours with many being 24 hour)
Hyper Convenience Store (4000-5000 sq. ft.; independent with a few located at gas stations; extensive on-site customer parking and / or pedestrian access; sells an enormous variety of pre-packaged goods, grocery & food service options arranged in departments; commonly open extended hours with many being 24 hour)