An Ode to the Eerie Charm of Convenience Stores At Night

Convenience stores are many things to many people: a Slurpee-filled oasis on a long road trip; a late-night hang-out for thirsty teens hoping to bum some beers in the parking lot; somewhere to grab some Cheetos, because Cheetos. But no matter where you are, after hours the artificial glow of these things is like an eerie sirens' call.

An Ode to the Eerie Charm of Convenience Stores At Night

Photographer Harlan Erskine snapped a selection of these junk food hubs a few years back, and the images are fascinating: Each is totally familiar with a seen-one, seen-'em'all sameness that's very strange. Is it weird that I find them strangely comforting, too?

An Ode to the Eerie Charm of Convenience Stores At Night

An Ode to the Eerie Charm of Convenience Stores At Night

An Ode to the Eerie Charm of Convenience Stores At Night

There's nothing romantic or impressive about the architecture; it's remarkably consistent—the structural equivalent of a shoebox with windows snipped out of the side—with lighting harsh enough to make anyone squint, and all the charm of a sheet of junk mail coupons. Chances are they haven't changed one bit since he shot the series (I'm guessing even a major rebrand won't evolve how we see these spots).

An Ode to the Eerie Charm of Convenience Stores At Night

An Ode to the Eerie Charm of Convenience Stores At Night

An Ode to the Eerie Charm of Convenience Stores At Night

An Ode to the Eerie Charm of Convenience Stores At Night

Some of these might be part of a strip mall, others situated on their own in the middle of nowhere. But even when there's blackness all around, you know exactly what you're going to find inside. [Junk Culture]