A 7-Eleven convenience store in Austin, Texas, has suffered exponentially after a group of homeless people moved into the adjacent empty lot. For over a year, 52-year-old Jagat Patel was forced to field customers who were terrified of the homeless population that pressured them to pay for services like window washings as well as typical panhandling. The 7-Eleven customers didn’t want to walk through a group of homeless people each time they wanted to make a purchase at the Austin convenience store, so that’s when Patel got an idea that ended up resolving the problem.
Patel first tried to engage the Austin Police Department to help remove the homeless people from the empty lot. Although the cops did show up, they were unable to successfully rid the area of the nuisance. That’s when Patel took matters into his own hands for the sake of his customers. He turned to classical music to ward off the homeless.
For the last two weeks, Patel has used a loudspeaker atop his store to blast classical music from composers like Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week – the same hours of operation as his 7-Eleven convenience store.
Patel is the owner of three 7-Eleven franchises in the Austin area and is glad to see that classical music is driving the homeless away. Employees at this particular location have noticed that there are fewer homeless people hanging around the area now that the music is being played at all hours of the day and night.
Additionally, Patel’s employees have reported that more customers are coming into the store at night. Previously, they had been driven away by the large homeless population, but now that classical music is forcing the homeless out of the area, more customers feel comfortable shopping at the convenience store.
Patel understands that classical music is probably making life harder for the homeless people in the area. The loud music makes it hard for them to sleep at night. He feels bad that he had no other choice but to use the music to ward off the homeless, a group of people who are already dealing with an unfair amount of bad luck in their lives. They’re also sometimes his customers.
“But at the same time, I have to protect my business. This is my bread and butter. And if my customers don’t come, then that’s a problem.”
Blasting music to ward off the homeless is not a new idea. Back in Los Angeles in 2018, a Rite Aid pharmacy played Barry Manilow to ward off the homeless. In West Palm Beach, Florida, city officials weaponized the children’s songs “Raining Tacos” and “Baby Shark” to prevent people from sleeping along the city’s waterfront park.
“Studies have shown that the classical music is annoying. Opera is annoying, and I’m assuming they are correct because it’s working,” he told KTBC.
What do you think about this solution to get rid of the homeless?