Two branch locations of a convenience store franchise were shut down this month, and for the time being, will remain closed.

In August of 2006, 7-Eleven, Inc. announced its purchase of White Hen Pantry Inc., acquiring more than 200 stores in the Chicago area and Northwest Indiana. Recently, both of Forest Park’s White Hen locations closed due to low sale volumes, according to a company spokesperson, and 7-Eleven has no plans for either property.

The 7-Eleven chain already has two stores in Forest Park, located on Harlem Avenue and Roosevelt Road. Over the next few years, 7-Eleven will convert and franchise all the acquired White Hen stores to the 7-Eleven brand. According to public relations director Margaret Chabris, the existing 7-Eleven stores in Forest Park are both doing well.

“Our intent is to do what’s in the best interest for consumers,” Chabris said. “We want this to be a slow, methodical process.”

While some might argue that 7-Eleven and White Hen are essentially one in the same, Chabris acknowledged each for their own service. For example, White Hen coffee is preferred to 7-Eleven’s, as proven by sales. And 7-Eleven, of course, is noted for its Slurpee drinks. Both convenience stores offer express food service. 7-Eleven’s long-term vision, according to Chabris, is to cross-pollinate the chains in an attempt to offer the ultimate in convenience and customer satisfaction.

7-Eleven recognizes the conversion and franchising of White Hen stores as a huge undertaking, Chabris said. Therefore, its first priority is to familiarize itself with the chain and its consumers.

The news caught some Forest Park residents off-guard. Pam Sbarbaro, owner of Forest View Laundry on Madison Street located next door to a now vacant White Hen, was surprised by the store’s abrupt closure.

“I was shocked,” Sbarbaro said. “I just found out last week. There’s no other store around here for people to go to.”

The now vacant White Hen stores are located at 7660 Madison St. and 7300 Roosevelt Rd.

However, not everyone will be disappointed by the loss of White Hen. Local 7-Eleven franchisee Ravia Tanveer was pleased by the news, noting a decrease in competition.

“White Hen is our only competitor,” Tanveer said. “The expansion of 7-Eleven in the Chicagoland area will be good for business.”

Since 1966, 7-Eleven has become the largest chain in the convenience retail industry. Currently, 7-Eleven operates, franchises, or licenses more than 7,100 7-Eleven stores in North America.

White Hen Pantry, established in 1965, has a long history in the Chicago area as well. Based in Lombard, Ill., White Hen has 206 locations in the Chicago area and in Northwest Indiana. The chain will continue to operate for the near term as they have.

“Chicago is a growth market for 7-Eleven,” Nancy Smith, vice president of 7-Eleven stores in the Midwest, said. “With the addition of White Hen, convenience becomes even more accessible to Chicago area shoppers.”