Arts and Culture

Oh, thank heaven? Hardly: 7-Eleven, you make Denver look tacky

My earliest childhood memories of 7-Eleven are all positive. Growing up in the pseudo-suburban area of southeast Denver known as Virginia Village, I spent many summer days scrounging for enough change to buy a Slurpee and three or four pieces of Bazooka bubble gum at the nearby 7-Eleven. Because way back in the late '80s, you could do that -- buy a full, cavity-laden meal for under a buck, each one a mini-celebration of school being out forever.

But now that I'm an adult, I see my closest 7-Eleven and I want to throw a brick through the window with a note attached that reads: "Hey, you forgot to knock down that eyesore of an old 7-Eleven across the street before you built this new, fancy one." But I wouldn't be getting the point across to the right people. Because the regular folks working at 7-Eleven are not the ones who made the crappy decision to blight a neighborhood in an unabashedly Walmart kind of way by not cleaning up their own architectural mess.

See also: Virginia Village: I'll be out reppin' my transitional neighborhood like a mascot

I'm sure there's some paper-pushing logic for why 7-Eleven thinks this is a proper way to run a business -- after all, it's a giant corporate company that seems to have the ability to close and open stores on a whim. But I'm not interested in business bullshit. I'm talking about the pure aesthetic dismay and socio-economic weight that 7-Eleven puts on a community when its shuts down one store and builds a brand-spanking-new one across the street.

The most obvious of these neighborhood blight blunders is the 7-Eleven switch at Colfax and Josephine. (Take a look at the Google street view to see exactly what I'm talking about.) At one time in the recent past, a perfectly good 7-Eleven sat on the southwest corner. Then a new version of the store was built across the street -- and the discarded store still sits vacant.

Knowing Denver, that spot could someday turn into the next bourgie-indie-fast-casual restaurant or CrossFit gym or wannabe Brooklyn retail store that sells one kind of T-shirt and an overpriced pair of tennis shoes. But in the meantime, the people who live near this dead 7-Eleven get to stare at a boarded-up blemish of a building. (Speaking of, I should call my gay husband Spencer and see if he can catch a glimpse of it from his bedroom window on Josephine. He usually texts me when the Arby's lights up his entire apartment like it's Kenny Roger's Roasters with its annual "chicken salad is back" campaign.)

I watched something similar happen to another store at Evans and Holly Street -- left for dead for at least a decade, this former 7-Eleven sat at the back of the corner lot, bombed out and busted. Eventually a gas station took over the property and knocked the ugly thing down -- but then, as if to rub it in everyone's face who had to live near that atrocity for years, 7-Eleven came back and built a new store across the street.

When the 7-Eleven by my house in Virginia Village closed, it was also vacant for a long time. The landlords of the strip mall took good care of it, however, and it never seemed to fall into disrepair. Eventually a coffee shop moved in to the space, and passersby probably can't even tell that it used to be a 7-Eleven.

But now, as if to warp the memories of those of us who lived there two decades ago, 7-Eleven, in its typical fashion, has decided to build a new version of itself across the street. I'm guessing that because the landlord took care of the O.G. 7-Eleven location's entire strip mall, it never went to hell. My neighborhood was lucky.

But to me, this is simply bad advertising. 7-Eleven, I know you're not at the forefront of American culture and you're not thinking about your part in how we humans feel about our surroundings, but, come on: Do you ever consider that the people who shop inside you are also the people who have to look at you all the time?

7-Eleven, you're ugly. And it's by choice.

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Bree Davies is a multimedia journalist, artist advocate and community organizer born and raised in Denver. Rooted in the world of Do-It-Yourself arts and music, Davies co-founded Titwrench experimental music festival, is host of the local music and comedy show Sounds on 29th on CPT12 Colorado Public Television and is creator and host of the civic and social issue-focused podcast, Hello? Denver? Are You Still There? Her work is centered on a passionate advocacy for all ages, accessible, inclusive, non-commercial and autonomous DIY art spaces and music venues in Denver.
Contact: Bree Davies