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WICKER PARK, Ill. -- 7-Eleven Inc. took ownership of several Chicago-area convenience stores from franchise owners following allegations that they were selling non-approved items, according to a DNAinfo Chicago report.
One franchisee told the news outlet that he was forced to give up ownership of his four Illinois stores in Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Boystown and Lincoln Square, while another owner reported the same about his stores in Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Jefferson Park and Portage Park.
Franchisee Jay Rawal said 7-Eleven officials removed "the stuff they didn't want me to be selling" from store shelves last week and told him he was not running the store operations according to the company's standards. Rawal, who opened his first 7-Eleven in 1999, admitted that he did stock some non-corporate-approved products, such as Sunkist soft drinks, at customers' request. Pen-sized hookahs were also removed from store shelves and returned to Rawal, along with store files.
"7-Eleven Inc. has terminated the franchises at those locations because the franchisees violated the terms of our franchise agreement. As a result, we assumed control of these Chicago-area stores and they are now open and operating under the management of 7-Eleven Inc.," stated Margaret Chabris, spokeswoman for 7-Eleven.
One of Rawal's stores in Wicker Park already reopened on Friday, Sept. 6, with all new staff. New manager Mark Kwasigroch said he was transferred to the store from other corporate-owned 7-Eleven stores.
The latest franchise takeovers in the area come weeks after 7-Eleven took over ownership of several other nearby stores, according to the report. Ken Patel, vice president of the Chicago franchise association for 7-Eleven operators, told the news outlet that the takeovers came without "any kind of warning" and he expects other stores are next.
Of the 400 7-Eleven stores in the Chicago area, only 70 to 80 are corporate-owned stores, noted franchisee Hashim Syed, who also publishes a newsletter about the local franchise community.