DALLAS - Fifty years ago, John Thompson, head of 7-Eleven, took advantage of a booming economy and an American society bent on getting things done quickly by transforming his company into the world€™s biggest convenience store chain, Investor€™s Business Daily reports.
Among his innovations were 24/7 store operations, introduction of the Big Gulp and Slurpees, plus international expansion. Thompson, who died in 2003, elevated 7-Eleven to a whole new level€"and with it, the entire convenience store industry.
"I'm not sure the modern convenience store would even exist without 7-Eleven," Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of communications. "They figured out people wanted things now. They were the first retailer to really do that. They knew what people wanted before people even knew what they wanted."
Thompson€™s father started the company back in the late 1920s and named it 7-Eleven to advertise its hours of operation. During the 1950s, John, along with his brothers Jere and Joe Jr., came aboard. John Thompson recognized early on that Americans were in a hurry.
"People wanted it even faster," said Lenard. "Forty years later, I think the speed of microwave is too slow. Today, people literally don't want to break stride. €¦ When you say convenience store, the first thing you think of is 7-Eleven. When you say 7-Eleven, the first thing you think of is convenience store. It's a generic name €" like Kleenex and Xerox."