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The Amazing Story of 7-11 Stores

This article was written by Phineas Upham

Seven Eleven started in 1927 by a factory worker named John Jefferson Green. Green found some success selling basics, like milk or eggs, from a storefront he built for himself inside of one of the ice houses he worked at. He was able to compete with grocers in the area because the ice preserved his goods and cut back on the distance people would need to travel to get food stuffs.

Green’s manager Joe C. ‘Jodie’ Thompson Jr. bought out the plant, and several surrounding locations, to try and operate multiple stores.

Early Seven Eleven stores featured a totem pole, which one of the workers had brought back from a trip to Alaska. It was placed outside of a store in 1928 to attract attention, which worked. Soon, most early Seven Elevens had earned the nickname “totem stores.”

The company went bankrupt during the Great Depression, but managed to bounce back by 1946. The name of the store changed then to reflect its hours of operation, which were from seven in the morning to eleven at night. This was unprecedented for the time, and helped the company scale up to 100 stores in just six years.

The Seven Eleven corporation has had a host of owners. At one point, it was owned by General Electric and then AutoZone. It was eventually bought out by a Japanese company called Ito-Yokado, which has had controlling shares in the company since 1991.

Thanks to Seven Eleven, consumers can enjoy an ice cold Slurpee on a warm day.

Phineas Upham

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phineas on his LinedIn page.