On Friday March 18th, the 7-11 on Juniper and Market Streets, next to City Hall in downtown Philadelphia closed its door.
Not because of a new apartment building, new hotel, new generic business chain or out of place development, but because of the safety threat the convenience store is imposing on its staff.
The Center City convenience store had a 10 year run since opening up in 2012, but violence, theft, and stress has taken an emotional toll on the individuals who have worked at this 7-11. Which is a perspective that everyday customers are not usually concerned with, when it comes to convenience shopping.
Up until the summer of 2020, the 7-11 was open 24 hours but it became too dangerous.
When COVID-19 hit 7-11, like many other stores was enduring economic hardships. Due to the protesting and rioting the 7-11 was boarded up for 90 days during which time its employees were not paid.
“The stuff that has been going on in here man, I’ve just had enough it’s gotten too crazy for me and my guys to continue being here. And even though the police are on patrol and nearby they don’t help most of the time. They arrive at the store after something has happened or they write a police report, but they don’t do anything to prevent it from happening again.” Store manager Mijul Patel
Mijul emphasized that besides the safety threat the store has imposed on employees, the 7-11 will also be closing down due to the amount of inventory being stolen and the fact that no employees have stayed long term due to low wage and constant turbulence of distress in the store.
He explained that most of the theft that took place in the store comes from the homeless people in the surrounding area. Items like cigarettes, snacks and phone chargers were taken so often that the store wouldn’t have those items in general.
“$200-$400 dollars worth of inventory was stolen weekly, we recently found out.”
Since 2014 when Mijul became the store manager, the escalated violence that has plagued the 7-11 location has never really calmed down, “the fighting, snatching and stealing has only gotten worse.”
“In the last 2 years, 6 staff members have been hospitalized. One clerk, my friend, was stabbed 9 times, he barely made it out alive, and still continues to work here. One of my other clerks and friend, Aboul, got punched in the eye back in December and was in the hospital for 3 days.” – Mijul Patel
It’s come to a point where Mijul can no longer have his family worrying about his safety daily, but also is exhausted and cannot have it on his conscience that his friends and coworkers’ safety is of concern as well.
“I’m not a coward, I’ve fought for my life in here and my guys lives in here too. We’re not staying here to risk our safety anymore. I’ve got a 3 year old daughter and wife at home who worry about me daily, it’s not worth it anymore.”
They have been the longest standing and consistent staff at the store location, the chain convenience store has many other locations in the City of Philadelphia.
Convenient store workers have faced hardships throughout the pandemic, but as hourly workers without representation from a union, their stories often go unheard and their struggles are unaccounted for. All workers have a right to safety no matter what line of work they’re in.