The first thing I establish when I get to a new place in Thailand after getting into my room?
“Where is Seven?”
Only after that has been established can I divert my attention to other things. It’s usually not far.
I don’t go find the local Seven because I’m addicted to some vestige of home; 7-Eleven doesn’t have a huge presence in Canada, though we do have them. It’s because 7-Eleven in Thailand are by far the most convenient convenience stores I have seen. They have everything a traveler needs in one place; they redefine convenience.
Here is a brief sample of things you can accomplish on a trip to a 7-Eleven in Thailand:
- Buy a few cans of coffee
- Pay your water bill
- Buy a pack of cigarettes
- Pay your electrical bill
- Put money on your phone
- Pay for a plane ticket
- Get a toasted sandwich
- Get a bottle of whiskey to go with the toasted sandwich
- File a police report (or have one filed about you after the toasted sandwich and whiskey)
And they are everywhere – an “across the street from each other and both are busy” kind of everywhere. In 2016 there were over 9,000 7-Eleven stores in Thailand – second only to Japan. In the same year there were only 8,355 in the entire United States. For perspective, Thailand could be squeezed into the province of Quebec on a map. That’s a lot of Sevens per square kilometre.
It’s gotten to the point that if I have to drive two minutes to a Seven well, jeez…that’s an almost intolerable pain in the ass. Sorta gets me thinking about changing my location to greener pastures. You know, to somewhere within a civilized distance of a Seven, ocean-view be damned.
The closest corner store to my home in Canada was a 15 minute walk (20 minutes in fresh snow) and 24 hours? It used to be.
“Too bad you walked up here at 11:47PM in -20C eh buddy? Crazy storm eh? Yeah we used to be 24 hours but not anymore. We just closed! Bwahahahaha!!!!!” SLAM!
Or at least that’s how I recall the events of that night…
Another thing I like about them is that they’re staffed. They don’t take the “Lone Ex-Carny” approach to staffing that you see back home sometimes. They’re usually family run franchises and you’ll see 5 or 6 people actually working in the store. You won’t feel like you’re disturbing Snake’s “merchandising’ of the new mags when you go to the counter. Here you’re only waiting in line because it’s busy.
And it’s busy because it’s convenient.