Soucheray: Life in today's 7/11 worldThere used to be a store called 7-11, today’s date, and it was one of the first, if not the first, small, corner grocery-and-gas stores in the Twin Cities that opened and operated to provide convenience about 30 years ago.
By: Kate Soucheray, Woodbury Bulletin
There used to be a store called 7-11, today’s date, and it was one of the first, if not the first, small, corner grocery-and-gas stores in the Twin Cities that opened and operated to provide convenience about 30 years ago. They were strategically located at the crossroads of busy thoroughfares, intended for the quick stop before work or as a customer was heading home. In some ways, it seems like the 7-11 recognized a change coming in our culture and was one of the first to acclimate itself to the new set of rules about to emerge.
The 7-11 almost seemed to be a harbinger of the change itself, and some may ask if it contributed in some way, to the new way of being a family in the era in which we are currently living. It almost had an “if you build it, they will come,” attitude. “Do we really need a little store on every corner?” someone might have asked back in the late 1970s. It was that convenient, quick stop on the edge of the neighborhood and near the entrance to the interstate, for that final purchase on the way to work. Or it was the handy stop on the way home from work to pick up the gallon of milk for supper.
The 7-11, in many cases, strategically located the gasoline pumps so they were on a slant, making the pump more accessible to the person in a hurry. It was very easy to fill and fly again. At that time, of course, there was no paying at the pump and we always had to go in to purchase the gasoline, along with a candy bar, soda or bag of pretzels.
If a sociologist was to look at the influence of the 7-11, would they say it is “a chicken and egg thing?” Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did the need for the quick stop necessitate the 7-11 or did the 7-11 create the need to feel as if we were always in a state of hurry and haste?
Whichever, and if ever, either of these is the case, it seems as if the intent, has created or necessitated its need. And now, the corner grocery-and-gas are not open from seven in the morning until eleven at night, they are all, it seems, a 24-hour operation. Now we can stop any time of day or night to pick up whatever we need, which they provide, in their diminutive version of the larger grocery store.
We take it for granted, and perhaps if we stopped to think about it, would wonder how we ever functioned without the accessibility of these all-purpose stores, deliberately placed to provide ease of shopping with minimal stress and bother. But if we did stop to think about it, has the 7-11 improved our lives or has it increased the sense of worry and rushing we do, as we attempt to provide for our families in an era of overworked couples, everyone on the go and many suppers consumed in the car?
As you enjoy and experience the rest of this summer, take time to relax and find pleasure in the many simple things available everywhere we turn in the Twin Cities. Go to the beach, take in the fireworks at a smaller city’s festival, go on a picnic, ride a bike. And whatever it is you do, it’s very likely your day’s excursion will include a quick stop at one of the local gas-and-grocery stops located all over Woodbury or elsewhere throughout the region. And as you do, remember that 7-11 was one of the first to provide this convenience for us.
Soucheray is a Woodbury resident and a licensed family therapist