Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, more popularly known as Jay and Silent Bob, haven't always been in show business. Before Dogma, before Chasing Amy, before even Mallrats, there were comic books. Fullfilling a lifelong dream, Kevin Smith is putting in overtime making Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash a success.

Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash
35 Broad Street
Red Bank, New Jersey

Most of the products are autographed by Kevin himself, and the items are reasonably priced, especially given their esoteric value. Where else can you get an actual dashboard figurine of Buddy Christ?

Check out http://viewaskew.com/jsbstash/ for the web page. They've got posters, t-shirts, comics... any fan of Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, or Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back will enjoy this store.

I happened to be in Red Bank, New Jersey one summer morning in Y2K. I was in the area for a Phish Show later that afternoon at the PNC Bank Arts Center.

So I decided to make a pilgrimage to visit Kevin "Silent Bob" Smith himself at his comic book shop.

The sign read "open at 10am."

I waited with a cup of Shitty Starbuck´s cofiee in my hand.

and waited...

and waited...

10 a.m. comes and goes and nobody comes to open the store... slackers.

finally at about 11 a.m. as we are about to pull out and head towards the parking lot, a scruffy looking kid strolls up and opens the shop. It´s not Kevin Smith. I go in and have a look around... traditional comics shop stuff lines the shelves plus a case of signed Chasing Amy, Clerks and Dogma shit... lots of Mooby caps and clothing... but no Silent Bob.

I ask the guy if he comes in much, he says yeah sure once in a while, but that you couldn´t set your watch by his appearences. He then goes on to tell me how he recently saw Bruce Springsteen in the hardware shop across the street (I guess the Boss lives nearby) the previous week.

I walk out into the morning sunlight, grab a couple of jelly filled doughnuts at Dunkin' Donuts and head to the show.

It was an anti-climactic pilgrimage, like this WU.

In modern Hollywood, it's expected that any movie with a huge budget that's expected to do huge numbers for a major studio is going to have a bunch of crazy merchandise behind its release. Action figures, candy and other various foods, play sets, costumes, posters and various types of toys.

That's where Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash breaks the mold. The online store, and its two locations in Red Bank, New Jersey and Los Angeles, California cater to a different crowd: fans of Kevin Smith's films, the interconnected View Askewniverse (and the non-connected Jersey Girl) and other films done under his production company's View Askew moniker.

That's right, merchandise for a group of films that most critics label as "independent films" and that have combined only averaged a little over $17 million per-film in their theatrical runs. Sound insane doesn't it?

Sounds that way, but it's not. Kevin Smith has used marketing genius to create what can be viewed as the Star Wars of small-money filmmaking in the marketing world. He's done so by realizing that fans of his "little films" are the same people throwing down too much money on action figures that break and the same crappy collectable with a different movie logo on it. Thus if you give them good and innovative products, they'll throw down the cash. While Kevin makes a decent amount of money on his films, he really hit pay dirt when he paved a new trail by marketing his movies to his loyal fans, who are quite rabid collectors apparently. He's proven that dialogue-based films with little to no star power that deal with a wide range of many human and social themes can be just as merchandise worthy as the flicks with the big-explosions, special effects, large-breasted women and A-list movie stars.

So kudos to Kevin Smith. He's earned the praise for rewarding a loyal fan base with great products: SNOOGANS wool caps, Jay and Silent Bob bobbleheads, a variety of inaction figures covering most of his films, Brotherhood of Dealers Union cards and the famous Buddy Christ Dashboard Statues...they're all at Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash. The place that’s proven that the little-films can have big-time merchandising.

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