Ice wasn’t enough – he wanted to sell more.
Coming up. How an innovative employee helped launch the convenience store revolution.
Texas is hot in the summer. And ice blocks for ice boxes were big business in the 1920s. The Southland Ice Company of Dallas had 8 ice plants and 21 retail ice docks.
But one day in 1927, an enterprising employee, Jefferson Green, began selling milk, bread, and eggs at his ice dock too. He saw sales spike on Sundays and evenings – when grocery stores closed.
That caught the attention of Southland’s founder Joe Thompson. Soon Southland’s other ice docks added food. In 1928 they added gasoline. After prohibition they added beer and liquor and – ta-daa! The modern convenience store was born.
Chances are you never heard of Southland Convenience Stores – but you know the name their ad agency gave them in 1946. By then their 60 Dallas and Fort Worth stores had expanded hours from 7 am to 11pm to serve people better. And the creative at Tracy-Locke proposed branding them as 7-Eleven.
Over the next 60 years, 7-Eleven pioneered most of the features you associate with convenience stores – 24 hour service, coffee to go, self-serve soda fountains, microwaves, ATMs, and self-serve gasoline. Not to mention, the Slurpy, the Big Gulp and other branded products.
Their biggest selling product? Coffee. Around the world, 7-Eleven sells 1 million cups each day. That’s more than 10,000 pots of coffee an hour, every hour — every day of the year! And that’s just one of the Fun Facts about 7-eleven on it’s web site.
Here’s another one: In a year, enough fountain drinks are sold at 7-Eleven stores to fill Walt Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon – twice!
Today 7-Eleven is the world’s largest convenience store operator, with 40,000 convenience stores worldwide – brimming with food, drinks, sundries and the product that started it all – ice.
And all because an ice dock employee wanted to sell something more.
Joe Thompson exemplifies an axiom featured on our website: Open your eyes to new trends. By studying consumer needs, his Dallas ice company launched the convenience store revolution with 7-Eleven.
Now Why Didn’t I Think of That?