The Very First 7-11

Below is a great website if you want to know the history of Dallas and Oak Cliff go to this link: and click on a date across the top.

LULAC now occupies the 2nd 7-11 built at Edgefield and 12th St. The original store was frame and built closer to the street. In addition to the story below, three blocks east (across from Carnival Food Stores) where the multi-cultural center is located, there was an ice house. Pictures show the ice delivered by horses.

As many well know, when the houses in this neighborhood were built, houses didn’t have electricity. Ice Box was the early refrigerator. Blocks of ice were placed inside to keep food cold. Maybe the block of ice lasted a day.

Found on a different website:
Founded in 1927, these stores, though not called 7-Eleven yet, started off quite simply as a side operation for Southland Ice Company. As well as selling their ice, Southland created a place to buy milk, eggs and bread, making up for the closed grocery stores at their ice manufacturing plant in Dallas, Texas. Customers were pleased as punch with the odd-hour offerings and soon more of the convenience stores started popping up. Called Tote’m, since customers “toted” away their goods, the stores even had totem poles in the front. In 1946, the names of the stores were changed in honor of their newly extended hours, from 7AM until 11PM – and – open seven days a week.

1927: First convenience store
Oak Cliff icehouse created concept of quick, easy shopping


By BRIAN ANDERSON / Dallas Web Staff

John Jefferson “Uncle Johnny” Green couldn’t have known what he was starting when he began stocking grocery staples at his Oak Cliff ice dock in 1927.

In addition to a 25-pound block of ice for 11 cents, Mr. Green’s patrons could pick up milk for 7 cents a quart, cheese for 24 cents a pound and bread for 9 cents a loaf. Sorry, no Slurpees – but they were on the way.

Seventy-five years later, the Southland Ice Company that owned Uncle Johnny’s icehouse has evolved into 7-Eleven, and the corner of 12th Street and Edgefield Avenue is recognized as the site of the world’s first convenience store.

“That was the first definition of convenience,” Jeff Lenard, a spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, said of Mr. Green’s shop. “He figured out people not only wanted convenience, but convenience of hours.”

Mr. Green kept his doors open for 16 hours a day, seven days a week, during the hot summer months. He supplied the blocks of ice used in homes of that era to keep perishables fresh.

But Mr. Green began to notice that his customers wanted more. A neighbor wanted milk for her children late one evening. Another customer came in search of eggs on a Sunday afternoon. Others commented that a few loaves of bread would be welcomed on the store shelves.

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National Association of Convenience Stores

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When Mr. Green’s idea for adding a few basic essentials to his inventory turned a tidy profit, Southland Ice officials took notice. The concept spread, and the convenience store industry was born.

“You have a group of people who have embraced convenience,” Mr. Lenard said of Texans and their love for one-stop shopping. Of the approximately 125,000 convenience stores in the country today, 12,800 are located in Texas.

“The industry will celebrate its 75th birthday in May,” Mr. Lenard said. “Because everything is bigger in Texas, Texas by far has the most convenience stores in the nation.”

7-Eleven continued operating at the original Oak Cliff location until 1995. But a lack of gasoline pumps and limited parking space spelled the end for the store. The property was donated to the League of United Latin American Citizens in 1998.

“They have another one on Hampton (Road) where we get our Slurpee fix,” laughed Renato De Los Santos, director of the LULAC National Education Service Center now located on the former site of Uncle Johnny Green’s store.

Gone are the racks of magazines and boxes of candy bars, but a 7-Eleven welcome mat remains at the front door of the building at 12th and Edgefield.

“We are using the building for our leadership and educational programs,” De Los Santos said. “They donated the building to us, so we have a 7-Eleven mat in front. It’s one of the largest donations we’ve ever received.”

A large desk once used by a 7-Eleven president sits just inside the building’s front door, welcoming the more than 1,200 North Texas students served by the LULAC center.

“Our primary mission is to help prepare them to go to college and get scholarships,” Mr. De Los Santos said, noting that 7-Eleven remains a major sponsor of the organization’s scholarship programs.

Mr. De Los Santos said he uses the location’s unique history as a teaching tool for visiting students.

“I take the students outside and show them the house next door,” he said, explaining that the neighboring home still looks much like it did when it was photographed alongside Uncle Johnny’s Southland Ice Company store in 1927. The LULAC parking lot is located where the store itself once stood.

“For the most part, they get excited and want to see more pictures,” Mr. De Los Santos said. “They relate to it. It’s in their neighborhood. It’s personal to them.”

He said the evolution of 7-Eleven shows students how a modest operation with humble beginnings can grow into a story of success.

Mr. Lenard agreed.

“I’m intrigued as to who the next Uncle Johnny will be to take a new idea and build an industry around it.”


©2004 Belo Interactive

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] into the global corporate behemoth known as 7-Eleven, the Southland Ice Company was founded in a little shack at the corner of Edgefield and 12th in Oak Cliff. As the convenience store chain grew, it expanded operations, eventually constructing […]

  2. […] isn’t the first-ever Southland Ice House. That one was at Edgefield and 12th, where, in 1927, John Jefferson “Uncle Johnny” Green operated the dock that became a Southland […]

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