Bodegas Fear Losing Customers To Rumored 7-Eleven

Photo by Ned Berke

As word spreads that a 7-Eleven franchise is believed to be the future tenant of the storefront vacated by McDonald’s two weeks ago, owners and employees of the numerous bodegas and smoke shops are increasingly concerned that the corporate convenience giant may run them out of town.

“Some people said your business will close down,” said Maiz Muhammad, a cashier at Bay Quick Mart. “A friend of mine who owns four 7-Eleven’s told me I’ll lose 30 percent of my business to 7-Eleven.”

The McDonald’s at 1509 Sheepshead Bay Road suddenly closed two weeks ago, and business owners up and down the strip have all heard the same reports: the space is going to be a 7-Eleven, owned by the same person who owned the McDonald’s. The report remains unconfirmed, and Sheepshead Bites was unable to get hold of the business owner. But that hasn’t allayed the fears of convenience store owners who will compete with the chain.

“It’s bad for local businesses that are already established,” said Ray Muhammad, a cashier at Bay Smoke Shop. “Another place that sells food, cigarettes and liquor.”

There are at least four convenience stores within 500 feet of the rumored 7-Eleven, plus a Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts and a liquor shop that all sell some products that the franchise may end up competing against.

According to Alik Aminov, the owner of Liquor & Wines, the operator of the McDonald’s was in negotiations with 7-Eleven for more than a year. Aminov, who said he’s friends with the McDonald’s operator, suggested that McDonald’s closed down due to lack of business.

“Before the recession there was a lot of business, but now there’s not enough business,” said Aminov.

Not all of the bodega businesses are concerned about the impending 7-Eleven, though. The lower overhead of a small business, compared to a 7-Eleven franchise, means that the locally-owned convenience stores will be able to keep prices down on some of the most coveted goods, making them more competitive than the corporate giant.

“Our business is in cigarettes; we have low prices while at 7-Eleven they overcharge,” said Bay Quick Mart’s Maiz Muhammad.

Aminov, who has been the owner of his establishment for 30 years, feels that the 7-Eleven isn’t a good idea… for 7-Eleven. He noted that there was once a Keyfood where the CVS is located now, but it had to close down because of their prices in comparison with the local mini markets.

“It’s not going to make two years, I guarantee it,” said Aminov. “These aren’t rich people [in the area], they’re poor people.”

Do you shop at the convenience stores on Sheepshead Bay Road? Will you visit 7-Eleven if it opens?