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7-Eleven is 'Pringle-izing' East Village, Anti-Chain Advocates Fume

By Serena Solomon | January 17, 2013 1:30pm

EAST VILLAGE — Residents are fighting against a slew of 7-Eleven convenience stores opening in New York City — including a handful of much-maligned outposts in the East Village.

While some residents have already been out "chalking" sidewalks with anti-7-Eleven slogans, a meeting was held Wednesday night at Father's Heart Church on East 11th Street to further organize against the Slurpee store giant and other mega-chains.

The group formed after 7-Eleven publicly declared its intention to open dozens of locations in Manhattan in the coming years. 

"People come to New York because it is not the suburbs," said Rob Hollander, the meeting's organizer, who also heads up the 11th Street A-B-C Block Association. "7-Eleven is not here to contribute to the culture of New York, and someone has to stand up for that culture."

With the opening of another 7-Eleven looming on Avenue A and East 11th Street, as well as existing locations on East 14th Street and the Bowery, the forum drew about 40 people Wednesday night. 

A spokeswoman for 7-Eleven, Margaret Chabris, said the chain has 32 locations in Manhattan and plans to have 100 within the next five years.

"It is our intent to have them [the stores] owned and staffed very locally," she said of existing and incoming 7-Eleven locations. "We want actively involved community franchisees."

Chabris also said the "nice, fresh and new stores" were helping fill vacant storefronts in the area.

Maria Rosenblum, 43, a lifelong East Village resident, said at the meeting she had already taken her distaste for 7-Eleven to the street by scrawling anti-chain slogans in chalk on the sidewalk with her daughter.

"It was fun and she loved it," said Rosenblum, of a Sunday "chalking" outing with her 10-year-old daughter, Aleda.

The incoming Avenue A store sits right next to Rosenblum's building, and the mother said she is expecting to find trash every morning left over from late-night revelers who stop at the 24-hour store for booze-fueled snacking. 

"It's the suburbs coming to my neighborhood," she said. "That's not our roots. There is nothing community-based about it."

Bob Holman, founder of the Bowery Poetry Club, was also on hand at the meeting to blast the store.

"They are boring. They are bland. They are not New York," said Holman, who wore thick links of industrial-size chain around his neck to symbolize the fight. "They are Pringle-izing our population.

"You look ugly when you walk into a 7-Eleven," he added, drawing a laugh from the audience. "That light sucks when you go in there." 

The meeting turned into mostly a brainstorming session for strategies to hinder 7-Eleven.

Ayo Harrington, a community activist and East Village resident, suggested educating local school children craving cheap sweets who, she said, were the only ones who rejoice when another 7-Eleven neon sign is switched on.

Another suggested an anti-chain law similar to one adopted in San Francisco, while others brought up the idea of a shopping guide to help local residents support bodegas and boycott the 7-Eleven.

Hollander said he plans to hold another meeting on subject next month.