Several black owners of 7-Eleven stores in the Los Angeles area accused Southland Corp. on Thursday of policies that discriminate against minority owners of the convenience stores.
At a press conference, the Los Angeles NAACP said it was investigating claims that franchise owners have been required unfairly to come up with "thousands of dollars in a matter of days" to meet financing requirements.
In addition, it was charged that the Dallas-based corporation, which has some 650 stores in Southern California, has blocked minority members from purchasing franchises in white neighborhoods.
Although the allegations varied, a key concern among the five owners related to a corporate policy shift in 1983 that set a strict time limit for operators to purchase an 85% ownership interest in the stores.
Those conditions have worked unfairly for some owners, the group complained, and jeopardized their ability to stay in business. One owner, Glenn Moore, maintained that his store is losing money and "I am working long hours just to keep them from taking the store from me."
According to the NAACP, those who appeared at the press conference aren't the only ones with complaints.
"We have talked with several other owners over the last six months who have either sold their stores and are just relieved to be out from under the tremendous pressure they had incurred from Southland--or were afraid to come forth for fear of being subjected to retaliatory harassment from Southland," said Anthony Essex, NAACP vice president.
Owen McKay, Southland's community resources representative, said the corporation strongly supports minority ownership of its stores and is studying the complaints. He estimated that 40% of the Southern California stores are owned by minorities, but said that blacks constituted only a small percentage of that group.