Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Snooch to the Nooch

Shooting Location: Quick Stop and RST Video
Film: Clerks
Year of Release: 1994
Actual Location: 58/60 Leonard Avenue, Leonardo NJ
Number of Cupcakes in a Baker's Dozen: Either 13 or 11. I forget which. It may be 13 because he makes an extra one to taste. Or it's 11 because he made 12 and tasted one. Stupid baker.

I have met a handful of celebrities in my life (click here to see a list) but I have found that one thing often thrills me even more than meeting a movie star, going to a movie location.

I am not sure why, but I have a theory: when you meet a celebrity often it makes them seem more real, more normal. But when you walk onto a location that was once a set, you are walking on to a place that was "make believe" and for a moment it feels like you are IN the movie.

So, it shouldn't surprise you that this run down shopping center in New Jersey seemed like a utopia to me the other day.

If you haven't heard of it before, Clerks was a very small, independent film that ended up being a solid theatrical hit. Clerks cost $27 thousand dollars and made $3 million dollars at the box office.

The film takes place, almost entirely, at this convenience store and video store in Leonardo. The film was followed by four pseudo sequels some of which shot more footage at the store.

It even spawned a cartoon series that was cancelled after two episodes.

Soon Clerks director Kevin Smith will return to Leonardo to shoot Clerks 2.

I had been to the Quick Stop and RST Video before, but not for quite a few years. As I drove on the NJ Turnpike I wondered 'Will it be the same?' 'Will I recognize it?' and 'What in God's name is that smell?'

Luckily it hadn't really changed, and the smell was just New Jersey.

RST Video is one of those small 'mom and pop' video stores that unfortunately you don't find enough of anymore. The name "RST" stands for Rajiv, Sarla and Tarlochen the three members of the family that own the store.

I love the sign. Some odd graffiti logo and words boldly proclaiming "VHS & NINTENDO." It's like you stumbled into a time machine. Then foolishly took that time machine to 1990 AND Leonardo NJ when you could have gone to a place and time that was far more exciting.

Last time I went to RST they had a cashier working there that spent about twenty minutes telling me about the film "The People Under the Stairs." Then he showed me the video box. I offered to rent it and he told me it was "banned" in the United States and he could go to jail for renting it to me. It was very strange.

Luckily, he was not there on the day I visited. Unluckily, the store was closed. A sign in the window simply read "store closed." Nothing more. Through the window the store looked the same.

Has the store finally gone out of business? Or has someone overslept and forgot to open it? I am puzzled about this as I am about the baker's dozen.

If I had to make a choice, I’d bet it's closed for good. The VHS and Nintendo market ain't what it used to be.

RATING: *** (out of four)

This brings us to the Quick Stop. This place was most defiantly NOT closed. In fact, it was absurdly busy. A non-stop stream of customers buying lottery tickets. Seriously. That seemed to be what every other customer bought.

The store looked exactly the same as it did last time I was there. Also, it looked the same as it did in the film. Heck, it probably looked the same as it did in 1974.

The store is very small inside. Also it is not a rectangle shaped store, it's kind of an isosceles triangle (I knew geometry would pay off for me one day!)

The store is small, but defiantly very cool. It is full of those odd convenience store items like cheap toys and mini sewing kits. Some of the old stock items are probably so old that they were on set during filming.

I spent a few minutes looking around and then grabbed an iced tea and some pork rinds and was on my way.

RATING: ************** (out of eleven - which may be a baker's dozen.)


  1. Anyone know know the answer to the "baker's dozen" question? No "googling" it! That would be cheating (although, to be honest I googled "isosceles triangle.")

  2. 13?
    I last visited Quick Stop/RST last summer and RST was closed. Perhaps Big Choice video finally put them out of business.


  3. Anonymous9/13/2005

    I knew a baker's dozen was 13 but no idea why. Google doesn't help much as there are three different explanations. Let's just say standing near an oven all day makes it hard to count.

    Why no pictures of the smoldering remains of the Quicker Stop across the street?

  4. Anonymous9/13/2005

    Wish that I could go, although I am not sure it would be worth the trip anyway.

  5. Anonymous9/13/2005

    NJ sucks. Way too many eskimos there.

  6. Thirteen. And you need to wear sunglasses, you look like you're getting burned.

  7. Anonymous9/14/2005

    Oh how I have dreamed of going there! I saw a video tour of it once. Dante hosted it and talked a little about the store's shape.

  8. Anonymous9/14/2005

    Knock it off Silent Bob!

  9. Anonymous9/14/2005

    You're chasing Amy.

  10. Anonymous9/14/2005

    Tell that story again and biggety-bam I will knock you out!