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    7-Eleven Kicks Off Celebration

    Anniversary gala at New York's Ellis Island draws thousands.

    NEW YORK -- 7-Eleven President Jim Keyes welcomed thousands of franchisees and their families to Ellis Island last night to kick off a two-day celebration of the convenience store chain's 75th anniversary.

    "We are here to celebrate a special event -- 75 years of convenience retailing," Keyes said. "This is a truly special event that not only marks an important moment in our history, but it begins our next 75 years of outstanding service to our customers."

    The company traces its roots to June 1927, when Claude Dawley and associates formed the Southland Ice Co. to supply ice for storing and shipping food during the hot Texas summers.

    Keyes said 7-Eleven has been a driving force through the years changing people's attitudes about convenience stores. The company is continuing that trend with the rollout of its Big Eats foodservice program. Currently, perishable foods account for only about 5 percent of sales. "We're not at the top of people's minds for fresh food," Keyes said.

    Keyes believes 7-Eleven can lift sales with new offerings, such as Big Eats Deli sandwiches made at central kitchens and trucked to area stores. To make such offerings feasible, the company has increased the frequency of deliveries to stores from twice a week a few years ago to three times a day.

    7-Eleven also announced plans to expand its commitment to technology with the rollout of Vcom kiosks, which offer ATM and check-cashing services. Keyes said the range of services the kiosks could offer is vast and could include limited e-shopping options for items such as movie tickets, flower orders and state fishing licenses beginning this fall.

    To help expand its 75th anniversary celebration to its customers, 7-Eleven c-stores are giving away free Slurpees to the first 1,000 customers to come into the stores. The company operates 5,800 units in the United States and Canada, and more than 23,000 worldwide.

    The anniversary festivities continue today with 7-Eleven University seminars at Madison Square Garden and conclude tonight with music and entertainment at Radio City Music Hall.

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