Lights! Camera! C-stores!
If movies reflect the fabric of American life, it makes sense that they place gas stations/c-stores front and center.
It was a small line, almost a one-off, but it ended up being the sentence that changed everything.
“Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.”
The quote is from the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), and while there have been gas stations in movies for over a century (including one that flames out quite spectacularly) and the bodega pops up often in movies about New York, the mention in Bill and Ted was different. The movie was seen by so many people and became such a pop cultural icon, that it placed the image of the c-store squarely in the public’s popular sensibilities.
Movies have a habit of doing that because they often reflect the fabric of American life. No wonder, then, that as we move through the first quarter of the 21st century, there’s no shortage of retail petroleum operators on the sliver screen. There’s even a NACS podcast that takes a kind of Siskel and Ebert approach to these kinds of appearances that’s called “C-stores at the Movies.”
Those curious to find modern examples will have no problem finding them. Here’s a few lists we’ve curated for your (ahem) convenience:
- TVOvermind selected “Five Awesome Convenience Store Scenes in Movies”.
- MSNBC invites you to “Snack on these Convenience Store Scenes.”
- This list gives gas stations equal time.
- Here’s one from our archives.
Finally, while it is technically a TV show, the current Disney+ Marvel series, Ms. Marvel, probably represents the next step in binding visual media with the modern c-store. Set in Jersey City, the six-episode mini-series (and the comic it is based on) prominently features and at times revolves around a fictional Circle Q.
For us at SSCS, working to support an industry that’s become commonplace in by public media adds some fun to the job. Oh, and if they ever decide to produce a spinoff about the industry’s technology providers, we have a name we’d like to forward for consideration . . .