No Wonder Local Business Names Are Lame

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

So maybe naming a business is harder than I thought, which may explain why names like "Auto Bell" and "The $2.75 Cleaners" eventually stick. While my blog only has about 30 faithful readers, I take pride in the fact that I consider all of you very insightful, witty, clever, and articulate. When I published the "What's In a Name" post and asked each of you to come up with alternate names for some of the local businesses in my neighborhood that I thought could use an upgrade, I expected a plethora of great entries.

Instead, I received a collective response of, "Hey, Andrew, we are busy, busy people here! I barely have the space left in my brain to remember how many kids I have, prepare my Sunday School lesson, and learn the names of the new contestants on "The Biggest Loser", and you want me to re-name businesses for you? Ain't happenin', bro, too hard. Now where did I put my keys.........and what do I smell burning in the kitchen?"

Okay, I'll make the contests a little easier going forward. So in response to popular demand and to relieve my mentally overworked readers, this week's contest is "The Top 5 Things That Make Me Happy!"......unless you guys think that is too hard as well. Okay, just kidding on the "happy" contest, but I will make them require less though in the future.

The only person who actually stepped up to the plate and posted an answer was the lovely Andrea, so she won in a landslide. Way to go, Andrea! (I'm just waiting for Greg to cry, "nepotism!" any minute now, even though Andrea is the only person in the field. Go ahead Greg, I dare you.) The "1% Of Your Daily Income Cleaners" was a stroke of brilliance, actually, since the owners will never have to change their signs or company letterhead. Also, imagine if Oprah dropped off a blouse to get washed. Rumor has it that she owns a house in Sedgefield, so it could happen. The Forbes 100 listed her 2007 income as $260 million, so 1% of her daily income comes to $7,123. The $2.75 Cleaners would have to wash 2,590 items to generate that much revenue with their current pricing structure. I think your on to something, until the homeless come in and start dropping off their soiled clothing and then offer to pay with a Canadian nickel.

The one consistent theme that came up in the comments is how easy it is to creep out parents if you put the wrong word in the name of a daycare. Angie mentioned a place called "The Tender Touch" and Carrie brought up the "Hands-on Children's Museum". Yikes. Very disturbing.

While I pointed out most of the somewhat silly names of businesses in the area, I also found one in town that is perhaps my all-time favorite - Vic Coffin's Karate Studio. Is there any cooler name for a sensei than Vic Coffin? The name "Coffin" sounds so tough and sinister that I've wondered if it is made up, like "Rex Kwando" from Napoleon Dynamite. Every time I drive past Vic Coffin's Karate Studio I picture Vic giving a flying roundhouse to the face of some musclebound hoodlum who was trying to steal Vic's wallet in a dark alley. As the hoodlum lays unconscious on the ground, Vic very calmly and cooly deadpans a line, a la Arnlod Schwartzanegger, like, "Somebody call a mortician, this man needs a coffin", and then slowly walks away. His website is and if you didn't think his name sounds manly enough, check out this gnarly picture of my new hero, Vic Coffin:

What's In A Name?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

One of the benefits of living in Adams Farm is the Harris Teeter shopping center. It has a grocery store and a number of small, strip-mall businesses as well. When we first moved to North Carolina I had never heard of the Harris Teeter and did not know what it was. When people learned we were moving into the area, they would always say, "That's a great area, you've got the Harris Teeter right there!" At first, the name Harris Teeter really annoyed me because I thought people were trying to say "theater" and pronouncing it "teeter" due to their strong southern accents. I just couldn't imagine my kids growing up in Greensboro and telling me one day, "Dad, I'm off to the movie teeter with Beckie Lou." It wasn't until we had lived here for a few days and I saw the Harris Teeter for the first time and realized that North Carolinians can indeed correctly pronounce the word "theater".

While I have come to accept the name Harris Teeter, there are several other businesses in the area that I still have issues with. I fully detail my umbrage below. This week's challenge is for you to think up an alternative name for any one of the businesses listed below. I'll score each submission on the Coolness vs. Lameness of the name as well as how much more likely I would be to enter the premises based solely upon the name. No matter how inexperienced you may be with naming a business, you will probably do better than:

Nothing inspires confidence like a "3 Star" rating. In most cases, stars are awarded on a 1-5 scale with "1" being significantly below expectations and "5" as greatly exceeds expectations. I guess the owners of this daycare are just being honest. They want parents to know that this daycare will simply meet expectations. When it's all said and done, your child will not leave here any smarter than when she arrived, but at least you will never be called to leave work to pick up your kid because the Health Department shut us down. That's right, we are the 3 Star Center - providing average childcare in the Piedmont Triad since 2007.

We were the $2.62 Cleaners last year, but hey, inflation happens. Beginning January 1, 2008, please make checks payable to the $2.94 Cleaners. Thank you.

I think that 99% of the Leon's in the world are current or former professional athletes. One of the backup running backs on my fantasy football team last year was Leon Washington. One of the best Super Bowl commercials of 2004 featured an incredibly egotistical professional wide receiver who went by one name - Leon. And who can forget former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks? Every time I see Leon's Salon, I get a visual image on Leon Spinks shampooing and then cutting my hair while regaling me with boxing stories as his long-term memory fades in and out. Needless to say, I've never been through the doors.

Okay, I know Tuesday Morning is a national chain and has managed to succeed despite its quirky name. Of all the days of the week, why choose Tuesday? Tuesday is the most inconspicuous, boring day of the week. Everybody hates Monday (until football season kicks off, of course), Wednesday is hump day, Thursday has all of the good TV shows, Friday starts the weekend, and Saturday + Sunday = no work. Tuesday has no claim to fame other than not being Monday, which every other day of the week can claim as well. Tuesday is just lame. The name Tuesday Morning stirs no emotion in me whatsoever. If they had named it Friday 3:45, I would immediately think, "Cool, just an hour and fifteen minutes until the weekend!". If it were called Sleep-in Saturday or You Should Be At Church Sunday, I would definitely shop there.

Let's play the word association game. When you saw the name Auto Bell, how many of you subconsciously thought "Taco Bell" the instant you read it? Most of you are probably beginning to salivate as you think of eating a chalupa or big beef nacho right this very moment. Every time I see Auto Bell, I think of making a run for the border. Justified or not, I just imagine these guys cleaning my car with the same amount of care and detail as the guy who folds my burrito at Taco Bell. You know, the guy who deliberately folds the bottom so that half of your beans and cheese plop down on to your wrapper after your fourth bite? You then have to spend the rest of your meal twisting your burrito like a rubix cube or else you will completely cover your forearm with the gooey mess. Why associate the name of your car wash franchise with the lowest quality fast food chain in the world? I guess McCarwashers was already taken.

If any of your aunts, uncles, parents, siblings, friends, or former business associates named any of the businesses that I mentioned, please, please forgive me and pretend you never saw this. For the rest of you, please submit some viable names for a daycare center, dry cleaner, salon, discount retailer, and car wash. (By the way, whoever submitted the Doyle Butz comment from the last post gets an immediate 10% added to his or her score because I accidentally snubbed you. My bad. Just tell me who it was - and be honest!)