It looks like the long dark period of tension with the 7 Eleven on Eliot Avenue opposite Our Lady of Hope School in
Middle Village is finally over. We have a new owner at 7 Eleven, Alan Dumain, who, buoyed by his next door neighbor, Teddy Matagrano of Starship Sunoco, sought out the Juniper Park Civic Association and Monsignor Sivillo of Our Lady of Hope, with the thought of making peace with the community. We welcomed the gesture because it is never productive for a business to be at odds with the neighborhood. Goodwill is the best advertisement for any business.
By way of background, because of all the tension associated with the 24/7 operation of the 7 Eleven in Middle Village since its inception in 1997, many of us have chosen not to patronize the store. Was that an effective way to show discontent? I can only tell you that astute business people know when there is a monetary shortfall at the cash register. Owners know instinctively when their business
is not operating at full earnings capacity. The word of discontent gets out fast and effectively. We in the JPCA sit on many committees, attend numerous meetings and we talk to a multitude of people. Nothing is more profitable than the good reputation of a business in the community.
The new owner of 7 Eleven, Alan Dumain, lives, very locally, in Richmond Hill. He is not a remote, detached person who runs off at the end of the day to the outer reaches of the suburbs. Consequently he is very much involved with the operation of his business. Alan was smart enough to seek out the community leaders and state his desire to move on to a more mutually productive level of cooperation with the community. When we heard what he had to say, we agreed that we could all go forward and co-exist harmoniously in Middle Village. Alan even rang the doorbell of the neighboring house to the 7 Eleven store and brought the owner flowers as a peace offering!
Let me explain what was on the table for discussion. It should be stated that Alan Dumain knew about the tensions with the community upon purchase of the franchise.
Since it is the policy of all the 7 Eleven’s to be open 24/7 the pressure was on to control the elements of patronization in the store. This was not an easy accomplishment because of the parking lot and the temptation for customers to hang out, using the lot as a “community mess hall.” A church and a school across the street added to the fragility of any control. In fact before the 7 Eleven was built, the JPCA arranged a protest against the then named parent company, Southland Corporation on Long Island. We felt it was inappropriate for 7 Eleven to be opening a 24/7 store directly across the street from a church and a school. Early on, the line in the sand was drawn and remained until Alan Dumain arrived
on the 7 Eleven scene in December of 2004.
Also, and this is just as important, the 18 wheeler delivery trucks block the sidewalk and the street in front of Our Lady of Hope School, while making their deliveries. They presented a horribly unsafe and disruptive situation to pedestrians, church attendees and the students at Our Lady of Hope School.
Along comes new owner, Alan Dumain, armed with solutions to the problem. Alan took three very big initial steps that will insure a strong control of the situation. First, he has installed cameras in his store and parking lot that operate 24/7. From his house in Richmond Hill or wherever he is in the world he can see what is going on in his store and in the parking lot.
Second, he has told the 18 wheeler delivery drivers that deliveries can only be made in the middle of the night, quickly and quietly. He told me that their length of stay is no more than twenty minutes and their trucks enter the parking lot as much as they possibly fit, trying not to block the street.
Third, Alan has already been in touch with the police at the 104th Pct., so they know totally about the problems in the parking lot. In fact Alan told me there was already a minor repercussion with the perpetrators when they scribbled on his windows in retaliation for his having
chased them out of the lot in December. The cameras gave Alan a clear tape of the perpetrators which he handed over to the police. He has already told a group of rowdy people that they are no longer welcome in his store.
We believe strongly, that Alan Dumain is up to the challenge more than any owner we have seen in recent years. He is determined to do the right thing. We are willing to give the 7 Eleven a new lease on life in the community, hoping this new peace results in a mutually productive reward to all involved.
So, to all the holdouts out there, feel free to bring your business to 7 Eleven located at 72-01 Eliot Avenue.. Maybe I’ll even stop in for a Slurpy! I hear from the kids that “they rock!” Alan told me that they have special 7 Eleven stickers for the kids that are also quite popular.
Before I close this article, let me give you some background information on Alan Dumain. As I mentioned, he lives in Richmond Hill and to support his control of the business, his wife also works in the store. Alan comes from Westchester and his wife, Phyllis, who I met when I
first visited the store recently, comes from Richmond Hill. The Dumains currently live in Phyllis’ childhood house in Richmond Hill. They have three grown children, their eldest son is an attorney married to an assistant district attorney
from Manhattan, their second child, a daughter is currently in the throes of joining the Peace Corps and their third child, a daughter, is graduating from college in May with aspirations to be a photographer.
For thirty three years Alan was in the corporate world running 300 stores as the President and CEO of a company called Northern Reflections which is a business in the clothing line. When he decided to look at the 7 Eleven brand he immediately knew what he wanted when he saw the
Middle Village franchise for sale and, as he stated to me “it was a match made in heaven.” He closed on the store
December 22, 2004 so you see how brand new he is in our community and how far he has come to mend fences. I can tell
you after speaking to Alan and Phyllis, they are delighted to be here because they see Middle Village as a concerned, vigilant community.
As this article winds down I should add that Alan has already signed up to sponsor a Midville Dodger team. Also, he told me that because there is always good food left over when the code on it has expired at the end of the day, rather than throw it out, he has arranged to donate that food to the charity that feeds the homeless, City Harvest, which stops by six times a week to pick up the food.
Good Luck, Alan Dumain, you are smart and accountable. You’ve done all the right stuff so far to move forward successfully in Middle Village. The Juniper Park Civic
Association is looking forward to working with you on that journey.
No article on ending an impasse with a local business can be written without giving due credit to the broker of the peace. As I mentioned above, that person is none other than our good friend, Teddy Matagrano of Starship Sunoco Service
Station, right next door to 7 Eleven. Teddy literally took Alan Dumain by the hand and brought him over to meet me as
my car was being gassed up at Starship! Teddy is a JPCA cheerleader so it is not surprising that he would tell his new neighbor, Alan Dumain, about the advantages of living harmoniously with the Juniper Park Civic Association and
Monsignor Sivillo of Our Lady of Hope School. Thanks, Teddy, you are a good will ambassador and a neighborhood
gem. Don’t forget Teddy Matagrano at Starship Sunoco when you need gas or a repair on your car.
The Juniper Park Civic Association feels it’s a great day when disagreements are resolved and everyone gets on the same page. Together we are all winners and contribute to the enduring success of the Middle Village community.