Ah, the convenience store. It seems like there is one on every other corner. Actually, when I was living in Orlando, there were three 7-11′s within a mile and a half of my apartment. These stores do serve a purpose. Unfortunately, they hustle you as well.
While I know many of you will argue that your experiences with your local convenience stores are vastly different from mine and I understand this post may be construed as an offensive piece, I still think it’s worthwhile for me to explain my distaste for convenience stores because I’m sure at least some of these points will be applicable to you. I want to give you some important things to keep this in mind the next time you feel the urge to get some beef jerky or Zima.
Ultimately, I strongly believe you can and probably should avoid the convenience store for the following reasons:
1)There is Nothing You NEED There
You do not need beer, ciagrettes, or candy. Believe it or not, avoiding the local convenience store can help you break your bad habits. You also are not likely to have any good use for the large array of obscure adult magazines or anything in that large glass case behind the counter. Honestly, the only real necessary item available at the convenience store is actually not even in the convenience store: it’s the gas station right outside of it. Just do me a favor, use your credit card and don’t go into the store. Just about every item that meets your eye is an impulse buy that you may very well regret later.
2) EVERYTHING is Overpriced
The mark-ups at convenience stores are absurd. You can save money on groceries by going to your local grocery store instead of paying nearly double or triple the prices at the convenience stores. Even the beer is cheaper at the grocery stores. All of those bags of chips, pre-packaged donuts that expire two years from now, meat sticks, and sugar-infused ice drinks do nothing positive for either your wallet or your gut. Make sure you have plenty of healthy foods to to snack on in the house so that you will not have to make that unnecessary trip to the convenience store to get lured into more impulse buys you would be better off without.
How else are you paying for “convenience”? Well, let’s start with the debit and new credit card fees. Many stores will charge you just to use your card. It is usually not a large fee (under $1), but they add up over time. You would think that with everything so overpriced, they could easily recoup the fees they get charged by card issuers, but they just get greedy. Sadly, even the ATMs at convenience stores will suck the money right out of you. With fees of up to $5 per withdrawal (not including what your bank may charge you), it can easily cost up to $8 just to take out a twenty. Don’t do it!
3) Shady People
OK, I understand these next two points might rub some people the wrong way, but I want to give an honest insight into my experiences at convenience stores. It seems like every time I go to my local mini-mart, some unsavory looking character asks for money. Or a ride. Now I’m not one who has a problem telling someone “no” and I do legitimately feel bad for some of these people who seem genuine, but just knowing I’ll be met with some of these people is likely to make me want to steer clear. Situations like this are often exacerbated after you complain to the clerk, as the person in question is always well known to the person working. They’ll say things like: “Oh, that’s Larry. He’s fine. He doesn’t bother anyone.” Or “That’s Stella, she’s always here.” That’s great, except Larry does bother someone…me! And Stella, despite always being there, continues to drive away quite a few customers every hour.
4) Risk of Crime
In addition to these people who will often get mad at you if you aren’t willing to part ways with your hard-earned money to support what is sometimes an alcoholism addiction, convenience stores are a hotbed for armed robberies. Even though your chance of being at the store during a robbery is minuscule, it is still a possibility. Robbery is not the only danger. After taxicabs, convenience stores have the highest prevalence of workplace homicide. If someone wants to make a quick buck, the threat of security cameras will do little to nothing to deter them. Most of the purveyors of these crimes either have prior convictions, have substance abuse issues, or both. There is almost nothing that will stop these types of crimes, especially when the economy creates such desperation as it has of late.
I’m not saying that the occasional candy bar or slurpee doesn’t hit the spot. It definitely can. But making a habit of shopping at the local convenience store is a bad idea for your wallet and health, and in many places, can even be dangerous. My advice: If you do not have a good reason, don’t go. It is that simple.
What are your thoughts on convenience stores? Do they truly offer a “convenience” to our society?
(photo credit: zooboing)