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NEW YORK CITY -- Not everyone is happy that 7-Eleven Inc. has aggressive plans to expand in Manhattan. According to the New York Daily News, bodega owners must change their business models quickly in advance of the c-store chain opening stores in their neighborhoods.
"It's definitely going to affect my business and I'm trying to separate from what they've been carrying," Sun Kim, owner of Café Lafayette in Chinatown, one a block away from a just-opened 7-Eleven, told the newspaper. "And [we're trying] to minimize the groceries, where [7-Eleven] is strong. I cannot compete with them price-wise. So I try to minimize the impact."
7-Eleven, owned by Seven & I Holdings Co. of Japan, currently operates 18 Manhattan c-stores. Fourteen more are expected to open this year. The chain further plans to open 20 more each year from 2013 to 2017.
"We have had great success with our recent openings in Manhattan and plan to continue to growing in that area," 7-Eleven spokesperson Scott Drake told the news outlet. Consumers also have mixed feelings about 7-Eleven's New York City expansion, the news source reported. "There's so many franchises now, and I know mom-and-pop businesses are going out of business," Kara Cash, a 42-year-old teacher, told the Daily News. "I have two good friends who have just had to close a restaurant and a coffee shop… Rents are so high and I think only [franchises] really make the type of money to afford it."
However, Cash did admit to the newspaper that her kids loved consuming Slurpees.
On the flip side of the coin, New York City Small Business Services commissioner Robert Walsh said 7-Eleven's rapid expansion is a good thing that will bring more jobs.
And Pravina Raghavan, New York district director for the U.S. Small Administration, added that bodegas are not necessarily doomed.
"Mom-and-pop shops are able to stay by differentiating themselves," she told the news outlet.