The World's Most Famous Convenience Store.
As Kevin Smith proclaims, that title is owned by Quick Stop Groceries in Leonardo, N.J. — site of his 1994 breakout sensation Clerks, and where the writer-director actually worked before making it big.
Smith can’t think of any other convenience store on the planet as well-known. The Kwik-E-Mart from The Simpsons exists in the fictional cartoon world of Springfield (although in 2018 an actual brick-and-mortar tourist trap version did open in Myrtle Beach, S.C.). One might argue on behalf of the Circle K in San Dimas, Calif., where strange things were afoot in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but those scenes were actually filmed at one of the chain’s other locations in Tempe, Ariz.
So Smith is sticking to his guns, telling us during a recent virtual interview (watch above) that the store continues to be a big draw for fans. As one of the Quick Stop owners shared with the filmmaker: “The amount of people that come every day, stand here, take pictures, come inside and buy Gatorade, it’s mind-numbing. They’re from all over the world. And that's been going on for like years and years and years.”
Now, the 50-year-old Smith is looking to expand the footprint of his Jersey strip mall domain, which appeared not only in Clerks but in his View Askewniverse follow-ups like Chasing Amy (1997), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) and Clerks II (2006).
On July 9, Smith and partners will open the SModcastle podcasting theater a few feet down from Quick Stop. (RST Video, which was also featured in Clerks and headquartered in the same strip mall, is now shuttered.)
“The most creative period of my life was formed by Quick Stop on the other end of the building,” says Smith, whose animated He-Man reboot Masters of the Universe comes to Netflix later this month. “I'm 50. I'm heading into the second half of my life. The final quarter, let's be honest. So I'm curious to see what happens next. What creatively can happen next? Because I'm supposed to be winding down. If you asked a lot of critics, they're like, ‘He wound down in ’95.’ But I'm still making stuff and I'm still interested in making stuff.”
Smith has been making popular podcasts since through his SModcast podcast network since 2010 and once had a similar studio setup in Los Angeles. He says he’ll return to Jersey at least once a month to record, but other podcasts will be taped with live audiences at the venue on a weekly basis.
And SModcastle, like Quick Stop, is world-elite, according to Smith. He’s calling it “the world’s only podcasting theater.”
Not that that’s necessarily fact-checked.
“Right now unconfirmed,” he admits. “But I put it out there many times in the internet and nobody's kicked back. Nobody's been like, ‘Hey, what about…?’ Most every other theater is like, ‘Look, I could be a podcast theater.’ But it's like, ‘Yes, but you are other things as well.’ We specialize in podcasts. So I'll take that. I'll take that title for as long as I can.”
Get more information at SModcastle.com.
— Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by John Santo
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