Most would think the crime scene is the 16-by-11 dorm room harboring 15 drunk college students, but fingers should be pointed elsewhere.
Sauntering diagonally across the Jake Starr Cafe parking lot, his gelled, jet black hair glimmered as he approached the illuminating green, red and orange sign that read “7-Eleven” above the storefront. He halted at the corner of the building by the dumpster as the man who accompanied him entered the store.
7-Eleven is a convenience store chain with over 7,800 locations in the United States and 50,000 total around the world. It is the largest operator, franchisor and licensor of convenience stores.
In fact, the 7-Eleven that the man with jet black hair who wore all black stood outside of at 1001 N. Country Road, had over 2.4 million total sales in 2013, according to the online directory of U.S. businesses and enterprises. This location is almost directly across the tracks at the Stony Brook train station on the university’s campus. Eight of the top 10 grossing within the company’s chain in the U.S. in 2013 are located in Suffolk County, according to an article from Newsday last February.
One of the mentioned stores in the article is located at 3000 N. Ocean Ave. in Farmingville, and its total sales last year peaked at more than 2.7 million, according to the directory. Therefore, relatively, the Stony Brook location’s revenue is not far off.
“That’s wild,” said Mark Borek, 59, who comes to the 7-Eleven in Stony Brook a couple times a week. He also said that the store being across the street from a college campus “definitely has something to do with it.”
There aren’t any other convenience stores nor grocery stores within walking distance of the school’s campus. And it’s the only place to purchase beer 24 hours a day, so Stony Brook students flock here.
The man with the Elvis-esque hairstyle slid his hands into the pockets of his hoodie — of which the sleeves were cut off at the shoulder — and inspected the sign posted on the brick wall that read; “No Loitering.”
His blatant disregard toward obeying the sign is not an uncommon sight. According to Borek, the loitering here isn’t prolonged, but there’s a lot of it. Brian, 21, a senior at Stony Brook, from Rockland County, NY, who would only speak upon anonymity of his last name because he bought alcohol for underage students moments before, concurred with Borek. “There’s plenty of loitering” here, Brian said, while he held two six-packs of beer — one being Dos Equis and the other Samuel Adams IPA — for his own use in separate translucent plastic bags each imprinted with the 7-Eleven logo.
A common term known around Circle Road (the main road on the university’s campus) is “shoulder-tapping,” which entails people under the age of 21 standing in the parking lot asking customers of age to purchase alcohol for them. It’s a well known term because, frankly, it’s not a peculiar sight — at this convenience store, particularly. When asked about the store’s policy regarding shoulder-tappers, Karen, a manager at this 7-Eleven, said, “we ask them nicely to leave.
“We also group-ID” when multiple people whom walked inside together are buying alcohol or tobacco products, she added. And when asked about fake identification, she said, “we deny it” and “we take it away.”
Regular customers, like Mohamed Elbarkatawy, 19, a Stony Brook student, backed up the manager’s claim regarding fake IDs. “If it looks fake, they’ll say no,” he said.
After about five minutes, the man with jet black hair jerked his head in the direction of the door to see his friend clenching a 12-pack of Bud Light. They nodded and strolled past one another in a nonchalant manner, the one dressed in black continued into the convenience store, and the other waited outside as if they had switched roles.
The only difference is when the man in black went inside, he had his eyes and position locked toward the ATM. When he returned outside, the two continued back in the direction where they initially came from.
Between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Friday, September 12, when the man with jet black hair orchestrated his scheme to score some beer, there were never more than four empty parking spaces of the 15 total in this 7-Eleven parking lot. And “probably six out of 10” people are buying alcohol here, Brian said.
Students of age at Stony Brook University make use of this 7-Eleven to purchase alcohol for themselves and their underage peers, despite the matter of legality. And this 7-Eleven inadvertently provides this service.