Memorable for
Odd Reasons
On the Peculiar Allure of Small Business Names

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bby Robert Winter


In this too-slick, overly packaged world, I’m perversely attracted by names of companies that have a kind of pleasant clunkiness or strangeness about them.  When my work recently required me to go through names of past and potential clients of a large service business, I felt almost as if I were mining ore.

Some organizations had names that piqued my curiosity virtually without trying. The California Reptile Company was one of these, as was the Hypnotism Training Institute.  Other names had to shout a bit more for attention, but still succeeded in getting it—viz. the Drinkers Hall of Fame.

Certain names achieve appropriateness in apparently accidental or serendipitous ways. Steadfast Tire may not be glamorous, but it sure sounds like the sort of thing I’d want under my family car on wet pavement.  And whether or not they’d consent to take deposits from outsiders, First Presbyterian Bank certainly has a reassuring ring of probity.

Of course, it’s in the nature of the serendipitous to also sometimes work in less desirable directions.  Take Sonnet Tool & Supply.  Of the mechanics I’ve met, I can’t picture many who would rush out to buy a wrench named after this form of poetry.  As for the Bear Tanning Salon, am I the only one who has trouble envisioning much of a market among bears for indoor suntanning facilities?

One name that may just need to be savored for a moment from a Zen perspective is Reliable Decorating and Parade.

For that matter, what is anybody to make of the Yun-Katz Tortilla Factory?  At best, a case of severe ethnic identity crisis?


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