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Taipei 7/11 Goodies – The All-In-One Shop Stop

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If you are in Taipei it may dawn upon you that there are convenience stores, especially 7/11 outlets all over Taiwan. In fact, public figures states there are as many as 5,000 7/11s as of 2014, some of which are located right across from each other on the same street. Taiwan is known as the land of convenience and prides itself on proving locals with everything they need right down the street from their house.

What you can find in 7/11

Everything from chips, beer, soda, utensils, water, sandwiches, instant noodles, stationary goods, vodka, wine, frozen food, ice cream, batteries, paper plates and printing services can be found in 7/11. The convenience store is also where you bring your bills to and pay over the counter, as well as pick up packages recently sent from bookstores. You can also buy cigarettes and grab a cup of coffee or matcha green tea to go or for drinking in house while enjoying free Wi-Fi and lounging areas.

Aside from major grocery purchases, Taiwanese view 7/11s as their one-stop place for pretty much everything you can think of, and the services have revently expanded into providing kiosks for train ticket purchases, concert tickets, movie tickets, laundry service and even fax services.

The downsides

As a westerner in Taiwan, here are the downsides I see in 7/11s:

  1. Lack of variety in drinks. There are so many choices of teas, but when it comes to soda-pop it is pretty muck coke and sprite. Never mind the fact that Dr. Pepper and Mt. Dew are well known and sought out among Taiwanese and are readily available in other major stores such as Sogo, you won’t find them in 7/11. It could be that these two soft drink companies in particular do not have operations in Taiwan and therefore importing the drinks are too expensive, as reflected in pricing where you can find them, but it’s a shame.
  2. Orange juice, and more orange juice. I really wish on a hot summer day I could gulp down something other than orange juice like a mango drink or pineapple juice. These types of juices are very popular in Taiwan, and yet have not made their way into mainstream branding.

Is too much convenience a good thing?

Convenience in Taiwan is a relative thing in my opinion. The fact that so many 7/11s exist and play a major role in peoples’ lives is largely a result of the otherwise inconvenient aspects produced in Taiwanese culture. For instance, many Taiwanese have to live in small apartments with either small fridges or even more commonly, no refrigeration facilities. Hence, the need for access to nearby groceries that can be bought in small quantities is in demand. Because of the same scenario, many Taiwanese have none or limited cooking facilities so they are reliant on nearby restaurant and convenient stores in which they have to go out for all their meals.

But couldn’t you argue that having enough space in your house for a large refrigerator that you stock up once a week and cook your food from is more convenient? Instead of having to put on your shoes and walk outside every time you can stay inside and walk to your fridge, loading up once a week on food at the local grocery store or Costco. Many Taiwanese can’t do this, however, because they cant afford to live in a place that has such facilities, so the fact that convenient-like services exist are really there to make up for an economic system that doesn’t allow for people to have an even more convenient and affluent life. This whole notion that Taiwan is convenient is true, but it is not necessarily because of good reasons.

That does not mean that Taiwanese still do not need the facilities for everything else in their lives such as the printing services etc. When out and about you may get hungry or thirsty and want something to drink, so having the stores is very useful but to say that all this was built completely around convenience rather than as a byproduct of otherwise unfortunate circumstances is not necessarily true.

Nevertheless, enjoy Taipei’s wide selection of 7/11s and if you are a traveler in the city rest assure that most of your cravings will be able to be satisfied here.

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