Anti-7-Eleven Group Calls For More Control Over Chain Stores

UntitledSuzanne Rozdeba At Tompkins Square Bagels

While U.S. senators debated the use of drones last night, members of the 11th Street A-B-C Block Association called for more oversight on that truly pernicious foe: 7-Elevens.

The group wants to make it harder for large franchises and chain stores to open shop in the East Village without prior community approval. Last night, it asked for the endorsement of Community Board 3’s Economic Development committee and was rebuffed — for now.

The request came as concern about the impending arrival of a 7-Eleven on the corner of East 11th Street and Avenue A (the chain’s fifth location in the neighborhood) hit an all-time high.

“Our concern is actually not just what’s happening on Avenue A,” said community activist and blogger Rob Hollander, who spoke for the block association and its offshoot, No 7-Eleven. “Our concern is five years from now, ten years from now, when there are nothing but corporate stores.”

plywoodAnnie Fairman The 7-Eleven site.

“What we fear most is the undermining of the local free market because giant corporations are not really part of the free market,” added the longtime East Villager. “They are a kind of monopoly because of their size and power.”

Mr. Hollander asked the community board to pass a resolution (reproduced below) supporting his group’s quest to change the language of city zoning law so that any “corporate formula store” would have to be passed by the community board before opening.

If such a change were made, a community could call for a 7-Eleven or any other corporate store, but “the communities get to say where they want them, when they want them, when they don’t want them,” said Mr. Hollander.

The committee didn’t vote to pass the resolution at last night’s meeting, citing a need for more specific information. “I think we need some more empirical data to back up some of the claims in the resolution. Such as ‘Whatever they provide you can get elsewhere,'” said Meghan Joyce, the committee’s co-chair. Board members were interested in knowing, for example, how many bodegas there are, how many have closed, whether the 7-Elevens are taking business away from the bodegas, and so on.

Committee members did, however, express their support of the issue.

IMG_5609Daniel Maurer

“We’re custodians to a neighborhood that is famous worldwide. And I do think preserving the characteristics of this neighborhood is important,” said David Conn, a committee member. “I don’t like to see 7-Eleven any more than I like to see Starbucks everywhere and I think limiting the presence of those in the future is important.”

The other co-chair of the committee, Richard Ropiak, said he would put the issue on the agenda again in the future. “Your arguments are good; your arguments are valid. But I think you’re hearing from the committee that it needs more work,” he told Mr. Hollander.

After the meeting, Edmund Dunn, a volunteer who spoke in support of the proposed resolution, was optimistic. “I think it was good,” he said of the outcome. “The purpose here was to plant a seed and I think the seed was planted.

A proposed resolution to restrict corporate formula stores through a zoning amendment (from NO 7-Eleven and the 11th Street A-B-C Block Association)
[NO 7-Eleven is an outgrowth of the 11th Street A-B-C Block Association. It consists of over 40 active members in 8 teams including the Bodega Walk Team, Press and Media Team, Website and Social Media Team, Petition Team, Research Team, Education Team, Street Team, Alternative Shopping Guide Team. We have several campaigns including a bi-weekly Bodega Walk run by Bob Holman, Eileen Myles and Robert Galinsky, a facebook page and a twitter hashtag, a projected Bodega Parade, kids performances at MoRUS, press conferences with city elected officials and candidates in the upcoming election. Our mission:

No 7-Eleven was created by New Yorkers to determine their own neighborhood land use in the service of their community. We intend to defend local commerce and community character from homogenized, corporate chain stores and franchises through publicity, boycotts, education, electoral pressure, legislative rezoning, direct action and community engagement.]

We come to CB3 for support in the form of a resolution like the following:

Whereas corporate formula stores crowd out local commerce and undermine our local free market;

Whereas corporate formula stores increase commercial rents in our neighborhoods;

Whereas corporate formula stores limit the offerings to local consumers;

Whereas corporate formula stores erase local character and the uniqueness of our community;

Whereas corporate formula stores benefit out-of-state corporations, and locally owned stores would recycle profits into the local market;

Whereas a restriction on corporate formula stores would encourage landlords to rent to local entrepreneurs;

Whereas a restriction on corporate formula stores would help lower commercial rents and allow more variety among local commerce;

Whereas corporate formula stores do not offer anything that local entrepreneurs cannot offer to the local consumer

Therefore be it resolved that Community Board 3 endorses the NO 7-Eleven goal of a zoning text amendment requiring all corporate formula stores to be passed by the Community Board before opening.