OKLAHOMA CITY—At least 30 Oklahoma City-area 7-Eleven stores are getting a makeover, reports Oklahoman.com.
The 100-plus stores were locally owned for 67 years until 7-Eleven Inc. purchased them in February 2020. The Oklahoma chain was founded by William Brown in 1953 with the blessing of his friend Joe C. Thompson, who had renamed his Texas-based Tote’m stores 7-Eleven because they were open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. According to convenience-store lore, the two businessmen had a simple handshake agreement about the arrangement, and it was the only time a separate chain dubbed 7-Eleven has been permitted.
“This has been a very unique opportunity for us,” said Chris Tanco, CEO, 7-Eleven. “The city of Oklahoma City is growing. It’s had job growth three years in a row.”
After the transaction was finalized, the chain immediately added lottery kiosks. Frozen drinks unique to the Oklahoma stores were replaced with Slurpee options, the national chain’s proprietary beverage.
Tanco said some of the improvements will involve cosmetic changes and improved store flow and display. A major addition will be Laredo Taco Company restaurants, a branded foodservice operation that 7-Eleven Inc. acquired in 2018.
(Read more about how 7-Eleven is recrafting its stores—including leveraging the Laredo Taco Company brand—in “The Reimaging of 7-Eleven” in the December 2020 issue of NACS Magazine.)
"We have lots of exciting things planned for the Oklahoma stores," Tanco said. "When we open Laredo Taco Company restaurants in select 7‑Eleven locations, the lines of enthusiastic customers have been out the door.”
A preview of coming changes can be seen at one Oklahoma City location, which has a full kitchen and customer seating. Like other Laredo Taco outlets, the eatery offers handmade flour tortillas, barbacoa, chorizo, carne asada, carnitas and breakfast tacos made with fresh eggs. A salsa bar offers an array of fresh salsas and pico de gallo, and Mexican soft drinks also are available. However, the Laredo offerings will not replace fresh foods that were already available at the stores.
“We’re not just putting in restaurants. We are redoing the customer flow so that when you come into the store it will feel like a food and beverage destination,” said Tanco, adding that customers will see an influx of the 7-Select brand items, such as juices, ice cream, electronics and wines. “They are less expensive for the customer and equal to or higher in quality than the national brand.”
Not all Oklahoma City-area 7-Eleven stores are new. Many were built in the 1980s and some date back to the ‘60s, which means some may be replaced, he said. The company’s goal is to expand in the city and throughout the state.
“We have a network plan that we go by,” Tanco said. “We look at the entire city. We look at trade areas and where we may see a store to relocate or be rebuilt.”