White Hen Pantry
|This article is outdated. (June 2013)|
|Fate||Acquired by 7-Eleven|
White Hen Pantry (known as White Hen in the midwest) was a Lombard, Illinois-based chain of approximately 261 predominantly franchisee-owned convenience stores located in the greater Chicago and Boston / New England areas of the United States. Most of the stores were open 24 hours and offer an array of standard convenience store fare such as coffees, cappuccinos, frozen and dry goods and toiletries. Many also had full delis serving boxed sandwiches and salads, name-brand meats and cheeses and fresh fruits and vegetables. White Hen's array of services included catering options and sales of external holiday gift cards. Most stores also had ATM's and provide lottery ticket sales; White Hen was the largest lottery ticket vendor in the state of Illinois.
White Hen Pantry was founded by Jewel Tea Company as Kwik Shoppe and began franchising in July, 1965, borrowing the idea from Texas-based 7-11 stores which were the first convenience stores. The first location was at 20 E. Golf Road in Des Plaines, IL. A few months later, it adopted the White Hen Pantry name, taken from Jewel's egg supplier, White Hen Egg Farms.
After American Stores purchased Jewel in 1984, White Hen Pantry was sold to its management team and became an independent company.
In 2001 it was sold to Clark Retail Enterprises, Inc., who immediately sold all 55 White Hen Pantry stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to New England Pantry, Inc. This deal formed New England Pantry's current status as a sub-franchisor of the White Hen Pantry brand, and its exclusive franchisor in the New England area.
In 2005 and the first part of 2006 White Hen franchises underwent a series of ups and downs. In the third quarter of 2005 the company planned to increase its store count in the Chicago area by as much as 25 over the course of 2006. While still foreseeing eventual growth, however, the company changed its immediate plans and planned to sell 15 of its stores in 2006. One explanation for its revamped course of action stems from its push toward serving freshly prepared deli offerings to replace stagnating sales of tobacco and other traditional convenience store wares. In summer 2005, White Hen's push toward deli-fresh offerings was strong in Chicago, where it offered free samples of its private label Pantry Select chips at an August Chicago Cubs baseball game. Its new deli-fresh focus allegedly fails to meet the needs of some of the many demographics to which the store caters, and may be hedging the quick growth for which it had originally planned.
In line with its focus on deli-fresh goods White Hen opened what it billed as a "store of the future" in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood on April 17, 2006. In addition to offering White Hen's standard fare, this particular venue offers "an expanded line-up of natural and organic foods, fresh Pantry Select green salads . . . and a toasted-to-order Hot & Fresh sandwich program with a state-of-the-art touch screen ordering system."
On August 11, 2006, White Hen Pantry, Inc. was purchased by Seven & I Holdings Co., Japan's No. 1 retailer and operator of 7-Eleven convenience stores in the United States. White Hen CEO Brandon Barnholt cited the merger as a great opportunity for the company, its franchisers and its customers. In the near term following the acquisition, White Hen stores continued to function as they had.
In July 2007, some White Hen stores began to be converted to 7-Eleven stores. Eventually, the White Hen name disappeared from the converted stores, having been replaced with the 7-Eleven branding. The White Hen logo may continue to be used for prepared foods such as sandwiches under the "Pantry Select" brand. Deli counters and products are being removed and replaced with standard 7-Eleven offerings.
In 2007, an employee in a Boston area store was fired after she announced her pregnancy. The terminated employee filed suit for sex discrimination. The employee claimed that after telling her employer of her pregnancy, he became unfriendly, as well as demanding towards her, and gave her increasingly more work. The owner's credibility was severely compromised when he gave contradictory testimony about the employee's performance. Additional testimony alleged that the owner refused to consider applicants for employment if they came into the store with small children. The terminated employee was awarded $9,471.00 in back pay, as well as $20,000.00 in damages for emotional distress.
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