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Charlotte veteran seeks votes to win 7-Eleven store

Justin Price has trained as a foot soldier, performed ceremonial missions in the nation’s capitol and fired rifles in honor of fallen comrades.

Now, he wants to own a 7-Eleven. And he needs your help.

Price, 32, is one of 10 semi-finalists in a Facebook video competition sponsored by the convenience retailer. The winner will get the chance to own and franchise any 7-Eleven in the nation without paying franchise fees. Each semi-finalist has posted a video with a personal story to 7-Eleven’s franchising Facebook page justifying why they should win the contest.

The Dallas-based retailer is asking members of the public to choose the video they like the best, which will determine the top three contenders. Those three finalists will then have one-on-one interviews with military veteran Joe DePinto, 7-Eleven’s president and CEO. Only one veteran will win a store.

The video contest, Operation: Take Command, started this week and will run through March 29, according to a company news release. For every vote cast, 7-Eleven is offering to contribute $1, up to $50,000, to Hire Heroes USA, a nonprofit that helps veterans find jobs.

Price, who served in the Army as a specialist in the 3rd infantry regiment, hopes to buy the Charlotte 7-Eleven at 1824 Freedom Drive, less than a mile from his home. He’s also looking at two 7-Eleven stores near uptown.

In his two-minute video, Price credits the Army with giving him the opportunity to attend college. His career took a “minor pause” in January after he lost his corporate job during the company’s fifth restructuring in six years, he said.

Even before his position was eliminated, Price planned to one day walk away from his corporate job. He entered the contest because he wanted to find a business that was “well-branded and had a support network...7-Eleven met all that criteria,” he said.

His management, accounting, sales and leadership skills will “translate very nicely into the 7-Eleven model,” he said, and allow him to partner with youth organizations. He ultimately wants to scale the business and build a management company that will enable him to promote people through the ranks.

“I want to stay in North Carolina,” he said. “I want to plan my roots here, and I want to grow something special here that many generations can enjoy.”

To cast your vote, go to 7-Eleven’s franchising Facebook page at https:/www.facebook.com/7ElevenFranchising and click on “OPERATION: TAKE COMMAND” under the “Apps” header on the left side of the page.

The contest is separate from a similar program ShopTalk wrote about last week. The 7-Eleven Zero Franchise Fee Initiative is offering would-be entrepreneurs in cities where the retailer has lower sales volume the chance to franchise a 7-Eleven store without paying upfront franchise fees.

Thirteen stores in the Charlotte-area are eligible for the fee waiver. The average franchise fee for a store in the Carolinas, including Charlotte, is about $139,000.

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