Some 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country, including in Texas and California, have begun using classical and opera music as a tactic to discourage homeless people from camping in front of their stores.
A Texas 7-Eleven owner says the goal is to discourage homeless people from being there and harass customers. Some customers say they are in favor of the music, while others are annoyed by it.
Store owner Jagat Patel says no one from the Austin Police Department has come forward, despite officers receiving multiple complaints about the noise of blaring classical tunes. He doesn’t know if the actual decibel level is within city ordinances, but he told FOX 7 that he plans to turn the volume down.
Patel says the homeless population has been a big problem.
“Especially a lot of my female clients and my young clients are scared to come here, because there are people constantly hanging out in the parking lot asking for money,” she said.
He says he’s had to pay a professional to clean the needles. Others who work nearby say they have been attacked by homeless people.
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“I have to carry this big old knife with me just to defend myself, it’s sad that you have to do that,” Joe Miranda, who works nearby, told Fox 7.
Patel says he started playing the music about 10 days ago and got the idea because other store owners across the country started doing the same thing.
“Studies have shown that classical music is annoying. Opera is annoying, and I assume they are correct because it’s working,” he said.
Since Patel’s and other nearby businesses began playing classical music and opera, they’ve noticed a difference.
“Now that they’ve had this music, we have less traffic with the homeless here,” Joe Miranda, a local business owner, told Fox 7.
Miranda says that she thinks it’s the right solution.
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“It’s helping, it doesn’t bother us because it doesn’t bother us, but it probably bothers them because they’re doing drugs,” he said.
Others disagree, calling the music “unpleasant” while they go shopping and fill up the gas tank.
“I think just talk to them and ask them not to stay, or not to live, whatever, I think that’s the best solution,” said Frederick Carter, who lives nearby.
He says he started going to another nearby 7-Eleven store that doesn’t have music.
“This music is not very good, it is loud, I find it unpleasant, I don’t like it, it can be heard from far away, it is very disturbing,” he said.
Texas convenience stores aren’t the only stores cashing in on Mozart, Bach and Beethoven, with 7-Elevens in California following suit.
In Los Angeles, California, the owners of 7-Eleven began playing classical music to help employees and customers feel safe amid a continued rise in homelessness in the area.
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California 7-Eleven owner Sukhi Sandhu told The Modesto Bee that he began playing opera and classical music last year in an effort to drive panhandlers and other loitering out of the convenience store.
“Once the music started, the mob left,” Manuel Souza told the local newspaper. “It’s hard to hang out and gossip and joke around.”