Photography by Danny Fulgencio.
There are no organic Slurpees in Preston Hollow.
Folks there buy their essential oils and gluten-free bread at one of the many high-end grocery stores nearby.
But here in Oak Cliff? We have 7-Eleven, and this is not just any corner store. Organic Slurpees, vegan ice cream and Dom Perignon alongside Big Bites, chili-cheese nachos and 32-ounce Gatorades, not to mention the tacos with handmade tortillas.
7-Eleven opened its first test store on Sylvan Avenue at Interstate 30 in March.
“We’re proud to be back in the original home of 7-Eleven,” chief operating officer Chris Tanko says.
Oak Cliff is the birthplace of 7-Eleven. In 1927, Southland Ice Co. dock operator John Jefferson Green started selling milk, eggs, bread, cigarettes and canned goods from his dock on Edgefield and Twelfth streets.
Southland director Jodie Thompson, who grew up in Oak Cliff, took that idea and ran with it.
7-Eleven didn’t just build its test store in Oak Cliff for sentimental reasons.
“People are recognizing that West Dallas and Oak Cliff represent a place where the innovative and different are welcome,” says Randall White, founding president of the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group.
The company spent a year doing market research all over the country to find out what consumers wanted.
That’s how they chose the thousands of products to put in the store, including bulk candy, frozen yogurt with a toppings bar, a selection of soups made daily and a Franke coffee system, which grinds beans and brews coffee by the cup.
With its sit-down café, 7-Eleven also aims to compete with Starbucks, serving espresso drinks and smoothies priced under $5.
7-Eleven bought Laredo Taco Co. and most Stripes stores in 2017. The taquería, found in Stripes stores all over South and West Texas, is the go-to taco spot throughout much of Texas. Because the Sylvan store has beer and wine on tap, it’s possible to have tacos and beer while hanging out in a 7-Eleven.
The store also has a VICKI vending machine robot — it uses AI technology — that sells electronics, from phone chargers and batteries to $300 blue-tooth speakers.
And this is one of about 100 Dallas-area stores where 7-Eleven is testing app-based self-checkout.
The products and concepts that do well at this store could be used in developing new 7-Eleven stores or revamping existing ones.
Emily Ruth Cannon of South Winnetka says the store carries her favorite brand of gluten-free products, Schär. And she figured out that the cucumber Slurpee pairs well with St. Germain.
But even with all of its fancy stuff, this is still 7-Eleven and a taqueria. It’s for everyone.
“From my experience, and from what my neighbors are telling me, 7-Eleven is going out of its way to cater to all of the economic groups living nearby,” White says. “That’s exactly what the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group said it wanted to see coming to the corridor, and it’s not something 7-Eleven’s predecessor was doing.”
The 7-Eleven test store is just a convenience store, but it’s so much more than that. Keep in mind that if you’re going inside to get a healthy snack, stay focused.
“I went with all intentions of getting an organic-cucumber-turmeric-celery Slurpee but left with super nachos loaded with chili,” says Kessler resident Kayli House. “It’s a trap.”