Kwik-E-Mart promotion drawing thousands of visitors

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Over a hundred visitors waiting to get into a converted 7-Eleven convenience store

Driving nearly 30 miles (48 km) to visit a convenience store was not out of the question for fans of The Simpsons. Thousands of such fans converged on a 7-Eleven store in Los Angeles to witness that store's transformation for the month of July into a Kwik-E-Mart, a fictional convenience store from the popular animated television show.

As part of a marketing campaign for an upcoming feature film based on the long-running TV series, twelve of more than 6,000 U.S. and Canadian 7-Eleven stores were effectively converted into the fictional store: the store signs and banners, colors, employees' uniforms and even merchandise were changed to match those shown on TV. Stores were outfitted with Simpsons-themed window displays, cardboard cutouts of the show's characters, and carried such cartoon staples as Squishees and pink donuts that matched those favored by one of the title characters, Homer Simpson.

A security guard waits for some people to leave the store in order to let more new visitors in.

While initial reports indicated that sales at the converted locations were up by 30%, the scene this weekend at the Los Angeles location left little doubt that the promotion was working — at least for 7-Eleven. The Los Angeles store was half-encircled by a line of well over a hundred would-be visitors waiting over a half an hour to go inside the convenience store. A security guard controlled the crowd, letting only about 15 people visit the store at a time. As 7-Eleven stores operate 24 hours, this crowd control measure was a round-the-clock operation, with thousands of visitors showing up in a course of a day in a never-ending line.

One of the people in line was William, a young man from Hacienda Heights, California, who had heard about the fact that there was a Kwik-E-Mart from a friend. Driving more than 30 miles just to visit a store, he was looking forward to seeing what the store had changed. He was unable to get others in on his enthusiasm, though: a friend declined his invitation to visit the themed store since it "wasn't a big deal." After driving all the way he was prepared to wait at least a half an hour in the line: his patience likely tested as he was not even half-way to the entrance 20 minutes after lining up.

File:Kwik-E-Mart - Banner Sign.jpg
The store's name appears to be changed, too

Despite the wait and the busy atmosphere, the set up was visibly enjoyable for visitors to the location. Families and groups of friends lined up to take pictures in front of plastic 3D models of Simpsons' characters on the wall of the store building. Even the neighbors put up with the circus: living just around the corner, Sharla walked over to the store and waited in line 20 minutes to get a pink movie donut and a drink. She had only positive things to say about the visit to the store, categorizing the whole experience as fun.

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