Southland Corp. is in the last week of a six-week promotion at its 7-Eleven stores called Sound Off, where customers are asked to give responses to amusing but debatable questions on life.
Dallas-based Southland, which recently restructured under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, hopes the promotion will increase traffic and sales at its 847 stores in the Baltimore-Washington area and more than 5,700 others around the country.
For the first two weeks of Sound Off, which started Feb. 18, the numbers look promising. Jessica Kersey, a spokeswoman for Southland, said beverage sales increased more than 10 percent nationally at 7-Eleven stores, compared with the first two weeks of February. March figures are not available, she said.
(In an unrelated development, Southland reported yesterday that its earnings were $1.5 million in its fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31. It had a net loss of $1 billion in the same quarter a year ago. The company said net income was helped because it didn't recognize $55 million in interest on debt that will be restructured.)
Aside from boosting sales, Sound Off has also unveiled some amusing differences between Baltimore residents and their neighbors to the south.
Baltimore people think men have it easier than women in life and don't want woman reporters interviewing sports figures in the men's locker room, for instance. In Washington and Northern Virginia, residents thought men and women face the same degree of difficulty in life and were more willing to let woman interviewers in the locker rooms.
Also, 49.9 percent of Baltimore respondents would tell the bank if an automated teller machine accidentally spewed out an extra $200. In Washington, 51.4 percent said they would tell the bank.
Baltimoreans' apparent love for money also showed in the percentage of respondents who said they would marry for it: 56.9 percent. That was more than 4 percentage points more than Washington and more than 3 percentage points more than the national average.
Ms. Kersey stresses the findings are not meant to be taken seriously.
The last question, which can be answered through Saturday at area 7-Elevens, is: Do you want your boss's job?
The question is . . .
* If an ATM gave you $200 too much, would you tell the bank?
.. .. .. Yes .. No
Baltimore 49.9 50.1
@Washington 51.4 48.6
National 50.1 49.9
* Would you marry for money?
# .. .. .. ..Yes .. No
Baltimore 56.9 40.1
@Washington 52.5 47.5
National 53.6 46.4
* Do you want your boss's job? . . .
Polling continues until Saturday