- 7-Eleven has opened a lab store in Dallas to test new platforms, concepts and products, according to the Dallas News. The store includes beer on tap, a coffee bar, an upscale product assortment and a Laredo Taco Company taqueria.
- In addition to traditional convenience store snacks, customers will find fresh soups, cold-pressed juices, and ready-to-eat options including salads, sandwiches, fruit bowls, hard-boiled eggs, cured meats and cheeses. The Slurpee machine has gone organic, with non-GMO, all natural flavors and ingredients including celery and turmeric.
- Grocery offerings include Justin's nut butter, single-serve pouches of basmati rice, bulk bins of trail mix and gluten-free, paleo and vegan selections.
As consumers turn away from classic convenience store staples like Slurpees and hot dogs, 7-Eleven is rethinking how it can win shoppers and remain relevant. Outside of its splashy new store concept, 7-Eleven has recently boosted its health-focused efforts and has worked with franchisees to offer cleaner products and options to align with current food trends.
With its rebranded lab store, 7-Eleven is testing its ability to be seen as a convenient place to pick up healthy snacks and enjoy a better-for-you meal. For health-minded shoppers, the retailer is opting for everything from vegan to keto-friendly items, and for those who want an enhanced 7-Eleven experience, there's soft-serve, a gelato bar, kombucha counters and breakfast tacos from Laredo Taco Company.
It could be difficult for shoppers to shake their perception of 7-Eleven, especially with organic offerings sharing shelves with Velveeta cheese and rice-a-roni. A riff on what's perhaps the most iconic convenience store fare, the organic Slurpee, could get a double take from shocked shoppers, as Eater points out.
Other convenience stores have worked to freshen up their formats recently. In January, New England-based convenience chain Alltown opened a new fresh-focused concept called Alltown Fresh offering craft beer, free Wi-Fi, ready-to-eat options and freshly made menu items such as avocado toast. A new Wawa in Philadelphia includes freshly prepared sandwiches, an espresso bar and gluten-free brownies. As snack brands clean up their ingredients and work on improving their own images, convenience stores that stock these brands are likely to offer healthier inventory as well.
7-Eleven started in Irving, Texas more than 90 years ago, so Dallas is a logical location for the chain's first lab store. The location is close to a popular ramen restaurant and an Italian market, and with a large mural on the side of the building, selfie-obsessed millennials are even more likely to take notice.
The Dallas News reported that another lab store could open near Dallas later this year, and that additional stores are planned for San Diego and Washington, D.C.