Isla Vista will be welcoming its first 7-Eleven convenience store, as the chain is expected to open a new location inside the ICON apartment building at 6545 Trigo Road in the next upcoming weeks.
The structure will be 3,100 square feet, with an outdoor patio ranging from 500 to 600 square feet that will potentially hold outside seating, and construction is expected to be complete in four to six weeks.
According to the Principal with the ICON Company, Eran Fields, 7-Eleven store owners are planning to give the convenience store a fresh, contemporary feel that will appeal to local college students.
“They’re trying to make it a bit more of a progressive, modern 7-Eleven versus a kind of traditional 7-Eleven, where you would go in and grab a coffee or whatever it is,” Fields said. “They’re trying to make it more appropriate for the student market, so they may have wireless stuff.”
The new store will be opening in the same building as the ICON apartments, which will be located directly upstairs. Fields said 7-Eleven representatives are looking to tap into the student market of I.V., which is likely attracted to a “pure convenience type of store.”
“They were very interested in being at universities for obvious reasons, which are students stay up late and at certain times, and they need to get something to eat and drink at certain times during the night while other stores are closed,” Fields said. “That’s something that works really well for them…and that works for us because we’re hoping that that’s going to be something very attractive for the tenants who live in our building.”
The store is striving to appeal to local student residents by creating a retail space that is “more modern, healthy and, design-wise, cooler” than other 7-Eleven locations nationwide, Fields said.
However, the appearance of the new business has elicited mixed reactions from the UCSB student population and local business owners.
Third-year environmental studies major Kayla Donley said the new corporate presence will negatively impact small businesses nearby by offering cheaper prices and unfair competition, while also discouraging local entrepreneurship. She also said local businesses provide cultural contributions to the community that are lacking in the business practices of large corporations.
“The 7-Eleven will hurt the local businesses in Isla Vista,” Donley said. “They are a large chain business, which enables them to have lower prices for things that the community would normally get from an I.V. market.”
However, a manager at I.V. Deli Mart — who asked to remain anonymous — said the 7-Eleven store will not be a serious source of competition, as it will not offer the same services I.V. Deli Mart now provides.
“They are not going to bother us. They don’t deliver. Our business has a lot of clients that come for delivery — that is one of the things they expect from us,” the manager said. “We’ll wait and see what happens when they show up. But I heard rumors that in that area, businesses are contracted to close at 10 o’clock. So there’s no point [to] open if they can’t be open for 24 hours at that spot…They are not going to sell that many slurpies. I ain’t worried about it.”
While the 7-Eleven will lack the convenient delivery services provided by I.V. Deli Mart, its actual location may be more of a threat to other businesses, according to Adrian Austin, a fifth-year economics major.
“I’d be worried about the fact that everyone on that side of I.V., whether they live there or are just partying there, has no reason to come all the way over here if they got a [7-Eleven] over there [with that] brand name recognition,” Austin said.
Additionally, the community’s loyalty to local businesses may decline as a result of constantly changing populations, as each year brings in new students while older students graduate, Austin said.
Third-year political science major Loryn Ferriera said other corporate-owned businesses that have opened new locations in I.V. — such as Pizza My Heart and The Habit — are highly recognizable and convenient but are also “hurting other local businesses that don’t really have as much of that name recognition.”
But for some students, increased convenience and lower prices are much-needed options. Fourth-year chemical engineering major Ambarneil Roy said he is optimistic about the benefits that a 7-Eleven store would bring to financially struggling students.
“I love the culture of Isla Vista and its tradition … but it is hard being a student sometimes, especially if [someone] doesn’t have that much spending money,” Roy said. “There’s nothing wrong with a cheaper option.”
The decision to launch the new 7-Eleven went through consideration of several factors — including store accessibility, affordability and convenience — all qualities which Fields said now contribute to the corporation’s long-term success.
PHOTO BY JIMMY CHANG / DAILY NEXUS
A version of this article appeared on page 1 of the May 7th, 2013′s print edition of the Nexus