Thursday, July 19, 2007

Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?

When it was announced that promotions for the upcoming The Simpsons Movie would include converting eleven 7-11 convenience stores to Kwik-E-Marts (the show's popular, price-gouging quick stop run by Apu), Chris and I discussed road tripping to wherever the closest location might be.

As it turned out, we didn't have to road trip very far as an outlet in Bladensburg, MD was honored with one of the coveted spots. With time running out – I think the promotion only runs until next week when the flick opens – we took a few hours out of our day and headed down I-95 to check it out.

Here's a tip. If you get off 95 at the Bladensburg/Greenbelt exit, check your odometer. You'll actually come upon another 7-11 before you get to the full-blown Kwik-E-Mart and I'm not sure it looks like the kind of place you'd want to stop unless you really had to. (In fact, it appeared to be further proof that as THG pal WP Tandy says, "You never come out of a 7-11 and say, 'Wow, that was a really clean 7-11!'").

Thanks to my trusty navigator we pressed on and found the Kwik-E-Mart sitting on a corner lot. Sure enough, the building's signs had been covered with KEM graphics, the facade redone to feature such popular characters as Marge Simpson and Comic Book Guy. (That's me up above with Comic Book Guy outside the store. Before anybody asks I'm the nerd on the right.)

Upon entering the store any Simpsons fan will be almost overcome by the sensory overload. A life size Apu waits to greet you and pose for photos, Chief Wiggum "guards" the hot dog display, and – in a nod to one of my favorite moments – Jasper aka Frostilicus remains encased in the icy freezer.

But it doesn't stop there... cans of Buzz Cola sit on the shelves next to Frosted Krusty-O's. The Slurpee machines now tout Squishee graphics. Even the neon-pink frosted donut that adorns the film's promo posters is available for purchase.

After merrily snapping photos and gathering up an armload of Simpsons booty to bring home, we got in line. A woman who works for a company that audits and re-stocks the store's magazine shelves approached the store clerk – a pleasant, hard-working, ever-smiling immigrant decked out in a Kwik-E-Mart shirt – to discuss some business.

Blissfully unaware of the promotion – and apparently blind to the hundreds of Simpsons-related items adorning the outside and inside of the establishment – she informed the nodding, smiling clerk that though she didn't know the name of the store had changed it was still on her route and she'd still be performing her service.

We checked out and I resisted the urge to snap a photo of the poor guy behind the counter who was just doing his job and didn't ask to be pulled into this whole crazy marketing scheme. As I took our bag of goodies and turned to leave he blurted out, "Oh, wait... thank you, come again!", Apu's trademark catchphrase.

I turned around and as the smile sort of faded from his face I asked, "How sick are you of saying that?"

The smile returned, he nodded vigorously and told me what I suspected... "Oh, very."

Click here to see all our Kwik-E-Mart photos.

4 comments:

london-party said...

nice blog

John said...

Oooh, you went! I have to go down there this weekend before Apu closes the thing down.

Dan said...

Definitely go... we're lucky, most people are nowhere near one. It's about an hour away and you won't regret the trip if you're a Simpsons fan!

John said...

I will indeed! And I linked to your post, by the way.