The future of convenience stores is on the corner of 18th Street and California Avenue in Northwest Washington, D.C..
It is in the form of the Tik Tok Easy Shop, which is a giant vending machine which has been dropped onto the edge of a parking lot in the busy, trendy Adam's Morgan neighborhood. This 18-foot-wide refrigerated box sells everything! From milk to bread to shampoo to eggs to condoms to laundry liquid to DVDs, but not underwear like in Japan.
The Easy Shop is the first of its kind in the U.S., though variations of it have existed in Europe and Japan for some years. Neighborhood residents are split on how they feel about what is being called "The Box" by local media Some folks think it is ugly and bad for local businesses while other urban dwellers are excited to be able to buy a DVD and shampoo at any hour of the day from a vending machine.
Buying something from it becomes a bit of a scene, though, which I found out when Scoresby and I went to buy the Pulp Fiction special edition DVD from it last week. People stopped to watch as we placed our order on the side of the box that looks like an ATM. They crowded around to see the big arm gently carry the DVD to the pick-up bin. The cool British guy who stocks the machine shook Scoresby's hand and asked him what other DVDs we would like to see in the box. The whole time, our dog, Archie thought all the people were there to talk to him. He jumped on the cool British guy who was talking about trying to get the movie Snatch in the machine.
All in all, the Tik Tok Easy Shop is pretty affordable. The DVD that we bought was only $22.75 (suggested retail price: $29.99). It is also fun be able to walk to a vending machine to buy a DVD.