If you were to look up “convenience store” in the dictionary, you’d most likely find a photo of a 7-Eleven. They’re all over the world, and are one of those places where you can find whatever you’re looking for in a hurry. But did you know that the United States isn’t the country with the most 7-Eleven locations?
If you spent any time as a teenager in suburbia, you most likely spent some time hanging out in front of the local 7-Eleven. Because hey, what else was there to do? You most likely bought your first beer there, too. When you’re a kid a Slurpee is the best thing in the world, and when you’re an adult it’s an indispensable place to stock up on just about anything. But behind those red, green, and yellow stripes, there’s quite an interesting history.
7-Eleven was founded by an employee of Southland Ice Company, John Jefferson Green, back in 1927, when he started selling milk, eggs, and bread from an ice house that he converted into a storefront. It was such a success that the plant’s manager, Joe C. Thompson Jr., eventually bought the whole company and changed the name to Southland Corporation, and this remained the company’s corporate name until it was officially changed to 7-Eleven Inc. in 1999.
The chain has had its ups and downs, but it’s truly become a part of the American landscape, as well as the landscape of the 16 countries that it has locations in, including Malaysia, Singapore, The United Arab Emirates, Norway, Sweden, and Mexico. So grab your big gulp and your Doritos Loaded, and read on to learn 11 things you didn’t know about 7-Eleven.
Their Early Name Was Tot'em Stores
In 1928, a manager placed a totem pole in front of his store after taking a trip to Alaska, and it got such positive feedback that not only was an additional totem pole placed in front of every store, the name was changed to “Tot’em Stores.” The play on words (you also toted away your items) worked.
Ice Was the Key to Their Success
It was a brilliant move to open sell convenience items directly out of the ice house itself, because their refrigeration needs were already taken care of.