How’s 7-Eleven doing after 10 years back in Houston?

When 7-Eleven announced they were returning to Houston over ten years ago, it was an exciting time for many. The company was in Houston from the 1950s until leaving in 1987. Many Houstonians remembered Slurpees fondly and were excited to see a major C-Store chain return to a city that most majors avoid. However, 7-Eleven has not easily built its reputation back up. Let’s start with how 7-Eleven even ended up back in Bayou City. While many people know about their purchase of Stripes, that was a few years after they committed themselves to this portion of Texas. In early 2013, 7-Eleven purchased the majority of the Victoria-based Speedy Stop. This gave the company 143 stores (out of Speedy Stops’ 210 at the time), mostly along the Gulf Coast, with many locations along I-35 up into Austin. The Houston locations were in the minority, and most were kept by Speedy Stop, with 7-Eleven only purchasing 4 locations in the area. However, in a non-comital move, 7-Eleven elected to rebrand these Speedy Stop locations as Tetco, another local brand they had purchased. The biggest real change then was the cash registers and the addition of some 7-Eleven branded items. Default soda fountains and ICEE machines were left in place, while 7-Eleven presumably worked on the Stripes deal in the background. Around this time, 7-Eleven would also begin scouting franchisees wishing to join their company and locations for new builds. Once the purchase of Stripes was finalized, these four locations would be some of the first to become 7-Eleven locations, but as mentioned, it was still a slow process. In fact, the final Houston Tetco only reopened as a 7-Eleven in 2021, years after the other stations. The 2017 purchase of Stripes put things into high gear; the store “guts” Slurpee and Soda machines, along with their POS, and store brands were the first to go, with the 7-Eleven branding following only when a location could be “renovated.” Granted, the renovation was rather basic, but it did remove the iconic Red, White, and Blue Stripes colors in places of Red, Green, and Orange. Once these stores were complete, 7-Eleven would go back to focusing on new stores. During this time, most former Speedy Stop locations would catch up with their new Stripes cousins.

11350 Jones Rd, Houston, TX 77070

12091 Westpark Dr, Houston, TX 77082

By 2020, most locations had been converted from Stripes to 7-Eleven, with a few exceptions. Some locations built at the end of Stripe’s tenure are still branded as Stripes locations. Also, many stores across West Texas were franchised as Stripes until a few months ago. While they’ve not said anything officially, it’s obvious that 7-Eleven is trying to get the brand under control and may move towards converting or selling the remaining stores. In the meantime, though, we’re seeing closures of former Stripes locations pop up seemingly overnight. While it’s not unusual to see a company “calibrate” after an acquisition, I think we’re seeing something slightly different here. These stores didn’t close once 7-Eleven confirmed they were losers. They mostly seem to be closing old Stripes as new stores open. In my opinion, both 7-Eleven, with former Stripes stores, and Circle K, with their former CST CornerStores, are pitting old against new. With 7-Elevens’ continual pickups, like the Raceway stores, they’re only making the problem worse. They also seem to be abandoning some of the same areas. For example, a Circle K and two 7-Elevens between Westheimer and Westpark west of Kirkwood all closed within the past few years, leaving the area under the purview of Now & Forever and a single Timewise. Numerous store closings in 1960 have also resulted in a weakened presence on the north side of town. Still, in other parts of town, new stations are going up and down the street from each other. It’s also worth mentioning that the single Speedway location in Texas City is still open and operating as a Speedway. Obviously, at the end of the day, 7-Eleven has to do whatever is best for business, but unfortunately for Houstonians, that currently means dealing with empty, ungraded, gray gas stations. So, to answer the question, how’s 7-Eleven doing after ten years back in Houston? While they’re not on their last legs, I’m understanding why they only picked up a few stores via Speedy Stop. One wonders if 7-Eleven was able to reject the Houston area Stripes in their 2017 purchase, would they have come back to Houston?

 

Other Closed Locations (Know by HHR at this time)

One comment

  1. I’ve mentioned this before, but in my recent experiences, 7-Eleven runs some mediocre gas stations. I only buy gasoline from C-stores and after the local Speedy Stop Mobil switched to self-branded gas, I’ve switched to buying gas from a 7-Eleven Mobil and a Honey Farms Exxon near one another. While the Honey Farms is hardly perfect, it is better than the 7-Eleven where at any given time, at least a quarter of the pumps are out of order and you’re lucky if the out of order pumps actually have bags over them. Even if the pumps work, there is less than a 50% chance the pump will print a pay-at-the-pump receipt. I often wonder if this is done intentionally to get more customers to come inside and maybe buy something (I never buy anything, I just want a receipt).

    During the warmer months, the 7-Eleven generally has dry windshield washing stations. While the 7-Eleven usually has better squeegees than the Honey Farms, that doesn’t help me when the squeegees are completely dry.

    Some of the other 7-Eleven Mobils and Exxons in this area seem to be run similarly poorly. If their gas station operations are anything like the rest of their retail operations, I can see why they are closing locations in my area. In a way, I hope they don’t close their Exxon-Mobil branded stations just because if those do close, there will be many fewer Exxon-Mobil stations in this area. That said, Honey Farms is the better place to take gas more often than not. It is too bad the Speedy Stop switched to self-branded gas as they were generally better than Honey Farms even (though Honey Farms was still Timewise at the time).

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