7-Eleven slurps up hat store space, considers unconventional sites for expansion

By Sarabeth Sanders | November 30, 2009 05:28PM

As Manhattan commercial rents plummet, one retailer still reaping the benefits is convenience store giant 7-Eleven, which last summer announced its planned expansion in the city. At a time when many chains are contracting, Dallas-based 7-Eleven is taking advantage of low entry costs and aggressively taking on Manhattan, where the company, which is currently operating six stores, plans to tack on an additional 100 locations over the next five years.

The latest in its business conversion program will be at 535 Eighth Avenue at 36th Street, Margaret Chabris, a company spokesperson, told The Real Deal. The site is the former location of Arnold Hatters, one of the city’s oldest hat stores, which went out of business last spring.

The Slurpee creators are “open to just about any location in Manhattan,” Chabris said, but noted that Midtown was particularly attractive because of the high level of traffic. The company also has its eye on the Upper West Side and Lower Manhattan, where rents are lower and where there is a larger residential population.

Unconventional sites like Manhattan hospitals, gas stations and office buildings are already on the company’s radar, she said, but declined to say which ones were likely to see the 24-hour store pop up.

7-Eleven, which has roughly four dozen stores throughout the city, is currently in various stages of negotiation for about 20 new locations in the borough, for which Robert K. Futterman & Associates is the exclusive leasing agent.

“The cost of entry may have been prohibitive a year or two ago, [but] we are now able to consider doing deals in locations where [we] wouldn’t have,” Chabris said.