Op-Ed: 7-Eleven and the East Village

| 16 Feb 2015 | 11:03

    The now-ubiquitous chain has infiltrated even those neighborhoods that don't want it

    The new 7-Eleven on the corner of Avenue A and East 11th Street is, in the eyes of many long time East Villagers, the first real corporate chain to breach the box that is our "Alphabet City" neighborhood (excluding the McDonald's on 14th Street just east of 1st Avenue).

    No one wants this 7-Eleven here; but a lot of people from somewhere want this 7-Eleven here.

    Any passer-by, be she a terminal New Yorker or tourist, will note that the prefabricated box that is this collection of recognized brands and day old sodium delicacies does not look right, does not belong. But there it is, trying to lure those who don't know better and those who know better; and sometimes, there on the corner, protestors, who started a group simply titled No 7-Eleven, protesting the looming influx of corporate chains in the East Village. Sometimes these protestors chant slogans like, "Slurpee, Burpee, 7-Eleven is Jerky" and "Hey, ho, 7-Eleven has got to go"; and sometimes they shout nothing, like today, when a dozen or so sign-waving denizens simply engaged Sunday afternoon revelers.

    Behind the dull aluminum of this new 7-Eleven is a little alley where the management company, Westminster, and the building's owner, Kusher, installed three industrial air conditioning units and one very loud refrigeration unit ? all echoing in the shaft between buildings creating a tunnel of mechanical noise that even drowns out the city's natural sounds ? or "natural" in comparison.

    Here, on the corner of 7-Eleven and New York City, a.k.a., 11th Street and Avenue A, Manhattan is starting to look like suburbia, and for some newer East Villagers, this ain't all that bad ? it looks like home, and it tastes like home.

    And for that crew standing on the corner with their fliers and signs, the East Village doesn't look like home anymore. And for the immediate neighbors, it certainly doesn't sound like home.

    Nobody wants this 7-Eleven for any number of reasons ? taking business away from the local bodegas, pizza joints, and other restaurants; the digested garbage and its refuse; the ugly, fluorescent lighting; the precedent it sets for other landlords to charge and receive insanely high rents from other corporate entities; and the noise, the incessant clicking, droning refrigeration unit ? and yet 7-Eleven is here.

    If you hang around the corner long enough, you may notice someone entering to buy a pack of cigarettes or a Slurpee; but then again, you may not see anyone entering because they can buy their fix elsewhere.


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