It’s fascinating just how much merchandise can be packed into a 7-Eleven store. Besides the obvious things like milk and bread, beer and soda, cookies, chips, and all sorts of candy, there are quarts of motor oil, cans of Spam, or for those who follow the ponies, copies of the Daily Racing Form.
But those things might only be noticed when the rest of the shelves in the store have been largely stripped clean, which was the case Friday morning in Sag Harbor, where the 7-Eleven store, which first opened its doors in 1987 — much to the consternation of many locals, it must be acknowledged — was open for its last day of business — much to the consternation of locals once again.
Clerks behind the counter said the store would close when corporate showed up. “As soon as they take these registers, we’re done,” said one clerk, who said he could not give his name because corporate policy forbade him from speaking to the media.
“Do you have any candy?” asked a bewildered customer, who looked around the nearly empty store. He said he came from upisland to work on a job, but didn’t have time to talk to a reporter, before he settled for a pack of wintergreen Life Savers, one of the few remaining items, along with a couple of Snickers bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, in the candy aisle.
“I think it’s sad,” said Angelina Gualberto, who added that the village needed a 24-hour convenience store for those times when you run out of bread or milk or need some aspirin late at night. “It will force us to leave our community in order to shop.”
“I’m not a big fan of it,” Sag Harbor Police officer Jenelle Rascelle said of the store’s closing. She had stopped in for a cup of coffee, which was being given away free on Friday. She told the clerk local police relied on the store for a quick cup of coffee when they worked overnight shifts.
Alison Rudansky, who grew up in Sag Harbor, asked her mother Meg Rudansky to take photos of her in the parking lot, where she and her friends used to gather on summer evenings to plan their nights. “I spent a lot of time from middle school to high school here,” said Ms. Rudansky, who is 36. “We called it ‘Sevs,’” as in “I’ll meet you at Sevs.”
She said Sag Harbor had changed drastically since her youth — and not for the good. “I’m devastated,” she said. “There has been a complete takeover of the town, and now all these people are out of work.”
To be fair, some employees said they had found new jobs, either with 7-Eleven or elsewhere, while others said they had not.
“This is terrible. They are driving the locals out,” said a woman who declined to give her name but said she had lived in Sag Harbor for 51 years and come to rely on the store.
The Water Street Shops complex, which 7-Eleven anchors, was sold in October to Friends of Bay Street, a not-for-profit organization that plans to raze it to build a permanent home for the theater. Friends of Bay Street’s chairman, Adam Potter, said the store, which had been operating on a month-to-month lease, had been notified earlier this year it would have to vacate the premises by the end of April. He has not disclosed what the space will be used for.
On Friday morning, employees carted out things like the flavored syrup used to make 7-Eleven’s popular Slurpee snow cone drinks. A few Big Bite hot dogs turned on the grill, and there were a handful of pastries in the display case.
The only thing in seemingly big supply were the various gift cards, which occupied large racks in the front of the store, and hand sanitizers and masks, which filled a table.
The bulletin board was full too, with notices for things like “Landscape Laborers Needed, Pay in Cash,” which reflected today’s gentrified village, and “Earth Goddess Certified Crystal Healer,” which recalled an earlier time when Sag Harbor was truly the “UnHampton.”
Evelyn Ramunno and Pamela Kern, two volunteers with the Sag Harbor Food Pantry, arrived to pick up perishables that the store had donated.
Around noon, a dumpster was dropped off in front of the store, and a U-Haul panel truck backed into the parking space next to it. A team of workers loaded up merchandise and fixtures into the truck and pitched everything else into the dumpster, as a worker on a cherry picker took down the 7-Eleven sign.