Owner of lot’s first 7-Eleven goes shopping at the new one, talks to reporters on opening day.

About a month ago we reported the construction of a 7-Eleven convenience store in the parking lot of an existing 7-Eleven store. This odd development was a part of an ongoing legal battle between the corporate office and a lone franchise owner Mitoshi Matsumoto.

It all began back in 2018, when Matsumoto declared he would no longer keep his store open 24 hours a day, citing a lack of staff as the cause. He said that the percentage of revenue taken by the head office made it too hard to pay his clerks a decent wage.

▼ The original 7-Eleven

This caused a stir and by the end of 2019, 7-Eleven decided to cut ties with Matsumoto and end their contract, claiming that they had received too many complaints from customers. However, Matsumoto refused to relinquish the store, keeping it open for a few days in defiance of the company and then leaving the store vacant for over a year with a sign that read “closed due to COVID-19 and legal dispute” in the window.

On 4 May, 7-Eleven held a grand opening of the new “temporary location” about two meters in front of Matsumoto’s store. I decided to head down and see how it turned out. 

The store certainly had a makeshift look to it with a sheet metal roof and fiberglass walls but a facade that made it look like an ordinary 7-Eleven. There were a bunch of reporters, security guards, and lawyers buzzing around the site and it was difficult to tell which was which.

Perhaps the oddest thing was that a second, tiny 7-Eleven sign was placed next to the original for some reason.

They also kept the rear construction wall up to keep the other store out of sight and — they hope — out of mind.

▼ The rear wall of the new 7-Eleven and the front of Matsumoto’s 7-Eleven

It had the opposite effect on me thought and my first instinct was to pop back there and see what was going on. Much to my surprise, Matsumoto was there giving a press conference by his paper sign that read “”Seven headquarters, please stop the improper use of force!”

Ever the showman, he had just walked over to the new 7-Eleven to buy a coffee from it and came back to his own store surrounded by a flock of reporters. After explaining his situation and saying that this new development wasn’t to his liking but he had to focus on his legal case.

After the press conference I was able to pull him aside for a moment and tell him about the response his story has gotten from our readers outside of Japan. He thanked everyone for their support and gave the following message:

“Anywhere in the world, it’s important to have a voice. Having your voice is important even if you’re mistaken, because when everyone makes their voice heard, more can be accomplished than by keeping quiet and just letting the wrong people have their way.”

While this franchise owner from a suburb of Osaka has managed to get his voice heard around the world, the real challenge will be when he has his voice heard in court. He said that day will begin on 28 May, and the judges will determine once and for all the fate of this lot full of 7-Elevens.

Photos © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!