What’s up with using negative words for business names? Ruth and were in Boise and needed gas. We pulled into a station and filled the tank. As we were leaving, I noted its name–Stinker. This got me to thinking about some others, and we began collecting names.
In Las Vegas we laugh at the Terrible Herbst Convenience Stores and his casino. There’s a restaurant downtown called Heart Attack Grill on Fremont Street. There’s a roadhouse on Main Street in Sturgis, SD, called Loud American, which kind of makes sense because of its live entertainment. In nearby Rapid City there’s Sick Boy Motorcycles. Years ago in Bandera, Texas, I saw a beauty parlor named Curl Up and Dye. In Australia I asked locals about stores called FCUK, which apparently stands for French Connection United Kingdom.
This naming of businesses with used-to-be unpleasant or slightly forbidden words extends into other areas. I recently learned about Uncertain, Texas, a town near Caddo Lake. I read about it in a fine, new book called Our Towns. Uncertain joined my list of oddly named places like Boring, Oregon, and Peculiar, Missouri. The ICAO airport code for Rapid City’s regional airport is KRAP, which I also learned about from the same book. In St. Louis we went to lunch at Canyon Cafe, which bravely serves Snakebite Beans.
I thought this over and decided that there are at least 3 reasons why this might be happening. #1–negative words have lost their power, #2–most pleasantly benign words are already taken and used in email addresses, business names, etc. I recall that a new chain of bare bones motels a few years ago got into trouble for using the name McSleep. Guess who sued them to prevent the use of this name?, and #3–shock value must mean sales. My grandson Patrick got so engaged by this topic that he contributed jerk sauce to my list.