At one Black-owned 7-Eleven franchise in Texas, the wine sells like hotcakes.
Store owner Alyson Rae Lawson had already seen recent success with her two franchise stores opening within a year of each other, but she got another boost once she began carrying Black-owned wine company McBride Sister Collection at one of her locations.
“It literally started off with me wanting to have a Black-owned business in my store,” Lawson told Atlanta Black Star when speaking about what’s reportedly the largest Black-owned vintner in the country.
Lawson began carrying the brand in May 2020. Her store regularly sells out of the wine as soon as it hits the shelves. On a Wednesday in mid-July, Lawson ordered 800 bottles and cans from the brand, which arrived at the store at 10 a.m. and were gone within five hours by 3 p.m., she said. The store’s most coveted wine: the brand’s Black Girl Magic collection.
“Right now, I’m sitting on a gold mine, and I want to keep it like that for a bit,” Lawson said.
The sales have made Lawson’s 7-Eleven store the nation’s highest volume-selling retailer of the brand, according to Black Enterprise.
“I don’t know that we’ve seen an account quite like this before,” McBride Sisters Collection co-owner Robin McBride told Black Enterprise. “They brought in 10 cases of Black Girl Magic and they sold out the first day. The next day, they brought in 30 cases and they sold out that day. Then 70 cases and it’s sold out immediately. She said I can’t even keep these in stock.”
The bustling sales come three years after Lawson won a contest to open a 7-Eleven franchise, marking the beginning of a thriving career.
Lawson had been mulling owning a franchise for some time, as entrepreneurship runs in her family. Her father franchised three McDonalds and her mother was a business owner in her own right.
“I was in corporate America and realized it wasn’t for me,” she told Atlanta Black Star.
As Lawson was planning to franchise with the convenience store chain, a 7-Eleven representative contacted her and encouraged her to apply for the company’s Women Franchise Initiative Competition.
In 2017, Lawson was one of three winners of the nationwide contest that was decided by U.S. residents. “I think it means everything to me because I didn’t feel as valued in corporate America,” Lawson said of owning the franchise.
Lawson said she still had to go through the traditional steps of owning her franchise, which included watching a webinar on the process, filling out an application and providing 7-Eleven your bank information. “You’re essentially investing in their business as well,” she said. “They want to make sure you are financially set.” She also had to send a two-minute video on why she deserved her franchise.
Lawson opened her first Arlington, Texas, store in October 2018. She opened her second 7-Eleven franchise directly across the street in December 2019.
“The store across the street was a corporate store,” she said. “Instead of competing with corporate, I decided I would rather buy up the corner and make a profit.” The process to get that store was similar to the process Lawson had to undergo to get a franchise, except the employees are directly hired by the franchise owner. Having neighboring stores comes in handy when Lawson is short-staffed in one location, in which case she can send an employee to the other store. As an existing franchisee, Lawson said it was a little easier for her to get her second location.
With all her success, one question naturally comes to mind: Does Lawson plan to expand again? “People ask me that all the time,” she said. “I really don’t have an answer. Would it be nice to expand? Sure, but I’m focused on running two stores.”