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.
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.
There are 53,516 locations of 7-Eleven worldwide, with the largest market being Japan, home to about 16,664 locations. There are only 8,170 in the US, and 7,816 in Thailand.
The company expanded its operating hours after World War II as the economy began to improve, to an unheard-of 7 a.m. opening time and 11 p.m. closing time. Hence the name!
The Great Depression sent the chain into bankruptcy in 1931 (even though the stores remained open), and in 1998 it was rescued from bankruptcy by the Japanese company Ito-Yokado, its largest franchisee, which resulted in the closure of several locations. Today 7-Eleven is a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings Co., which is also owned by Ito-Yokado.
The reason the store went 24-7? The customers wanted it. The following year, 24-hour locations also opened in Fort Worth, Dallas, and Las Vegas.
In 2009, the company released two low-priced proprietary wines called Yosemite Road, sold in the United States and Japan. At the 7-Elevens where it’s available in the U.S., you can buy a bottle for just $3.99!
Slurpees and Big Gulps were introduced in Japanese stores in the early 1980s, but never really caught on so they were discontinued. Slurpees have made a comeback, but the machines are operated differently.
If you stop into a 7-Eleven in Oklahoma and ask for a Slurpee, you’ll get nothing but a funny look. Locations in the state are independently-owned due to an agreement reached in 1953, so they have a slightly different product line. Along with selling Icy Drink instead of Slurpees, they also sell baked goods instead of hot dogs and nachos.
Because it’s 7-11. Get it?
Japanese 7-Elevens also sell video games and consoles, CDs, DVDs, digital cardreaders, Christmas cakes, chocolates, and fireworks.