It’s tough to manage or own a convenience store in California these days, since criminals have more rights than law-abiding people and if you dare fight back against the freeloaders and hoodlums who regularly take whatever they want from the shelves and the cash registers, you’ll be the one facing criminal charges.
And that’s just *inside* the store. Especially in places like Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Sacramento (not so much in the more sane areas of the state, which do exist, and I can’t list them because I’ve been sworn to secrecy), potential customers first have to navigate past the “unhoused” and even some unhoused communal living centers (a/k/a homeless encampments) to enter places like 7-11, AM/PM, or even CVS and Walgreens.
Nobody wants to actually physically confront these people, because sadly many are mentally ill, and many are violent. And, while COVID didn’t kill them in big numbers, they’re not exactly living in hygienic circumstances. If the cops do come to clear them out, they’re usually back soon. So the best solution is for them to leave voluntarily, or to make your establishment an unattractive location. Promises of housing and services haven’t been very effective in enticing folks to leave their tents or shopping carts, and people who’ve erected barriers to prevent folks from sleeping on the sidewalk have had their hands slapped by code enforcement bureaucrats.
As far as I know, though, nobody’s tried blasting one song on repeat, 24/7, from a store’s outdoor speakers, but that’s working for a 7-11 in West Los Angeles. Damon Packard, who lives near the store, wrote about it on his public Facebook page on Saturday, saying:
The 7-11 right next to my building (the one across the street from the Nuart theater) has nothing but Toto’s AFRICA playing 24hrs a day over their loudspeakers (no joke) I don’t know if the owner had the idea that song on endless repeat would scare off the homeless but it worked.
Hurry boy, she’s waiting there for you
As a side note, that artwork is amazing. If it’s his original artwork, he needs to sell it.
For people who know Los Angeles, this store is located at the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd and Sawtelle, which is a block west of the 405. If you’ve been around that area recently, you know that homeless people have set up their tents and cardboard boxes everywhere.
Packard returned around 5 AM Tuesday and reported that “Toto Africa 7-11 is still going strong.”
I can think of a lot of songs much more annoying than Africa – the song is beloved in our family (yes, we’re the weird people who ended up gathering around a grand piano and having a family sing-a-long, complete with harmony, at my son’s wedding rehearsal dinner) – but if that’s what works at this 7-11, I say keep it up.