Israelis flock to taste iconic Slurpee as 7-Eleven opens first store in country

Store offers self-service experience, promises to launch app soon; company plans to open eight stores in Tel Aviv by end of year, 30 nationwide by 2024

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

Dozens of people line up outside of 7-Eleven's first store in Israel, at Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv, January 11, 2023. (Twitter video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Dozens of people line up outside of 7-Eleven's first store in Israel, at Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv, January 11, 2023. (Twitter video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

US convenience store mega-chain 7-Eleven opened its first store in Israel on Wednesday, with a long line of customers lining up outside the Tel Aviv shop to make their first-ever purchases.

An additional eight stores are expected to be open throughout Tel Aviv by the end of 2023, with a further 30 slated to operate across the country by 2024, according to several media reports.

The store sells a range of unique brand items, in addition to Israeli snacks, ready-to-eat takeaway meals and basic home supplies.

The opening was marked by long lines as Israelis clamored to try their signature items like Slurpees, a slushed ice drink. A small size costs NIS 10 ($3), while a large is NIS 15 ($4.40). A coffee costs NIS 9 ($2.60), and customers are not charged extra for alternative milks, such as soy.

The store also offers hotdogs with buns for NIS 14.90 ($4.30) and does not charge for sauces and toppings.  Customers are charged NIS 7 ($2) for soft-serve ice cream or frozen yogurt, with no extra costs for toppings.

Patrons serve themselves and pay for their items either at a self-service kiosk or at the counter.

The company has also promised to soon launch a mobile app where customers can scan and pay for their products.

Israel’s 7-Eleven CEO Avinoam Ben-Mocha told media outlets: “The self-service desk saves the customer time. It allows the customer to prepare themselves coffee, a hot dog, or ice cream just as they like, and all within a short period of time.”

He vowed that the chain “will be a significant player in convenience stores and kiosks. It’s a solution like a mini market, pizzeria, cafe and fast food restaurant under one roof.”

At this stage, the Tel Aviv store will operate on Shabbat, and therefore does not have a kosher license. The company has yet to decide if other locations will open on the Sabbath, but Ben-Mocha said the store “will take into account everything that is around us, and every case individually.”

“We aim to open as much as possible without harming customers’ feelings,” the CEO said. “There will inevitably be kosher branches in places where appropriate.”

The company’s global CEO Ken Wakabayashi hailed Israel as an “excellent environment” to expand his business.

Slurpees are displayed at a 7-Eleven store in Concord, New Hampshire on November 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Larry Crow)

“7-Eleven’s entry into Israel brings Israeli customers a one-stop-shop solution, with fresh, high-quality food and a response to convenience store needs, all in a new retail format in the Israeli market. We are excited to provide citizens and tourists with a world-class shopping experience,” he said.

The local chain was established as a partnership between 7-Eleven and Israel’s Electra Consumer Products.

Electra’s CEO Zvika Schwimmer said his firm aims to boost competition and become a significant player in the convenience store market in Israel.

“The consumer who chooses 7-Eleven will have an international consumer experience and will receive a value that he will immediately feel in his pocket.”

7-Eleven, with its catchphrase “Oh Thank Heaven For 7-Eleven,” has 77,000 stores in 18 countries, with Israel becoming its 19th and first in the Middle East.

Appliance maker Electra Consumer Products has been building up its food division, and in May acquired control of the Yeinot Bitan supermarket chain, which has around 200 stores across Israel.

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