By Tessa Raebeck
Selling boogie boards and beer can turn quite a profit – in Montauk, that is. Opened in 2010 despite protests from vocal residents, the Montauk 7-Eleven is the chain’s top-grossing store in the United States.
Of 7,800 locations nationwide, the four most profitable are all in Suffolk County, with the East Patchogue, Southampton and Farmingville stores following behind Montauk. Sag Harbor’s 7-Eleven earned the 11th spot. Of the top 10 locations by sales in the country last year, eight were in Suffolk County, according to 7-Eleven Inc. There are 208 stores on Long Island.
“It’s a Long Island thing,” franchisee Chris Stephens, who runs the stores in Montauk and East Patchogue, told Newsday. The East Patchogue and Southampton locations have fought for the top spot in recent years, but this year, Montauk’s summer sales helped the store to secure first place.
“You really target what’s needed from the community and people who’re here,” Mr. Stephens said of his business model. The Montauk store is flush with St. Patrick’s Day gear in March and stocked with sunblock, beach umbrellas and water guns in the summer. Beer is popular year-round and animal hats are a constant.
Although the Dallas-based company declined to give an exact number, Mr. Stephens said he has annual sales in the low millions, selling about $100,000 in beer and $50,000 in coffee monthly. Last summer, the store sold 250 boogie boards.
Despite the evident popularity of Suffolk County 7-Elevens – or perhaps because of it – some year-round residents have been vocal in their opposition to the chain, first in Montauk and now in Amagansett. Plans to build a franchise in a commercial building to the east of the Amagansett IGA were delayed last week when the East Hampton Town Planning Department rescinded the project’s building permit, calling for further review.