BURBANK, California — It was enough to make any fan of “The Simpsons” scream “Woo-hoo!” when a 7-Eleven in Burbank transformed overnight into a Kwik-E-Mart, a real-life re-creation of animation’s most famous convenience store.
From the yellow outdoor facade (already graffitied by a character calling himself “El Barto”) to sales racks overstuffed with “Simpsons” brand items — Buzz Cola, KrustyO’s, Sprinklicious donuts, etc. — to morning clerks decked out in Kwik-E-Mart uniforms and Apu name tags, 7-Eleven left “no stone unturned” for the ultimate in cross-promotion, according to Sterling Hayman, an accounts director for advertising firm Tracy Locke (see ” ‘Simpsons’ Kwik-E-Marts Might Open In Your Hometown — Squishees And All” ).
“We tried to develop as many products as possible that we knew customers have been dying for, for 18 years,” he said. “We [couldn't] be more excited about how it turned out.”
Products weren’t the half of it. Signs and stickers were posted liberally around the store, including one near the magazine rack that read “This Is Not a Library” and several that extolled shoppers to “Vote for Quimby.” Large plastic cutouts of Homer, Apu, Chief Wiggum and others stood alongside customers in the aisles. They even found a place in the freezer for Grandpa’s friend Jasper, who spent an entire episode in the Kwik-E-Mart’s cold storage.
The Burbank 7-Eleven is one of only 11 stores nationwide to undergo the conversion, planned in anticipation of the July 27 release of “The Simpsons Movie” (see ” ‘Simpsons Movie’ Cast Discusses Green Day’s Appearance In Film” ).
“Worst 7-Eleven ever!” one customer joked as he stood outside clutching his “Simpsons” merchandise next to a picture of Comic Book Guy. His jesting sentiments were far from the overall feeling, however — each customer was seemingly more enthused than the last over the surprise break in the morning routine.
“I come here probably a couple times a day,” said Lillian Mitchell, holding a dancing Homer doll in addition to her morning coffee. “I love this. I love the Kwik-E-Mart.”
Though it was tough to tell in the rush of morning traffic how many of the shoppers were visiting for “The Simpsons” and how many just for a cup of joe, clerks told MTV News that they can already sense an immediate impact on business.
“Kwik-E-Mart is much better than 7-Eleven because everything is sold out,” declared clerk Comet (who insisted we call him Apu). “Last night was so, so busy. It’s unbelievable. I can’t describe it.”
As we made our way toward the exit, ready to pay for our purchases, it was Comet whose voice rang in our ears, giving us our last impression of the store’s total transformation. Sounding uncannily like Apu while parroting his signature line, he gave each customer a raucous good-bye.
“Thank you,” he screamed. “Come again!”
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