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DENVER -- 7-Eleven is taking a Big Gulp out of the Denver real estate market with rapid growth that's seen 17 stores added to the metro area in the past 12 months, The Denver Post reported.
Eight new stores have opened in Denver, five in Aurora, two in Littleton, one in Centennial and one in Longmont, according to figures supplied by 7-Eleven's Dallas headquarters.
The seemingly sudden proliferation of a brand that's been around since 1927 is due to the strength in the Denver market and the recession-driven lower cost of capital and tenant space, Margaret Chabris, 7-Eleven spokeswoman, told the newspaper.
"We're a strong company, and strong companies grow," Chabris said, noting 7-Eleven reached a 40,000-store milestone worldwide late last month. "Properties that we might have been interested in before the recession may have been too expensive. As companies retracted development plans or shortened their leases, that becomes more opportunities for us."
Richard Oneslager, a 7-Eleven franchisee who owns five stores in Fort Collins and Greeley, said Colorado is underserved by convenience stores on a per-capita basis.
Nationwide, there are 146,341 convenience stores for a population of 307 million -- one store per 2,100 people. Colorado, with a population of 5 million, has 1,763 -- one per every 2,830 people, according to statistics from the National Association of Convenience Stores.
"The secret with 7-Eleven and why we're seeing such growth now is (the company) has put together such an infrastructure from the delivery and commissary point of view," Oneslager told the newspaper. That means each retail outlet can offer more fresh merchandise including sandwiches, salads, fruit and baked goods.
Denver commercial real estate consultant Mary Beth Jenkins said 7-Eleven's new downtown locations are strategically located near office, hotel and residential foot traffic.
"If you have apartments nearby and have hotel customers, that fills the impulse grocery needs," she said. "If you're a landlord with a corner and a tenant who's not paying, why wouldn't you look at a 7-Eleven?"
As for danger of saturation, Jenkins said, "As long as the density in customers is there through residences, high-rises, hotels or office tenants, downtowns are target rich."