By 1937, ten years after the introduction of the electric refrigerator, 44% of US households had adopted them and ice docks had lost almost half of their market.
But not Joe C. Thompson, the president of the Southland Ice Company.
During this same period, he benefited from the challenges his ice dock competitors faced by creating partnerships with them to use their ice docks as additional locations for his convenience store model.
He branded his growing chain of stores Tote'm stores, and the number of locations began to skyrocket.
THE 7-ELEVEN NAME WAS BORN OF INNOVATION
One of the next innovations that Thompson implemented was expanding the store hours way beyond the typical “9 to 5” of most stores at the time. Having a store open, as the company did, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. was unheard of at the time, so Thompson decided to change their name to 7-Eleven to reflect their extended operating hours and to emphasize this differentiator. Eventually, this trend went even further and some locations became 24-hour convenience stores, but the name stuck anyway.
7-Eleven introduced many other other innovations, as well, like the first to-go coffee cup, the first self-service gas pumps, the first self-service soda fountains, and the first convenience store to offer ATM services.