We’ve all seen them before.
They can be in sketchy strip malls on the outskirts of town or in luxury shopping venues in the heart of Vegas. They can be mobile businesses with just a truck or trailer. Or they can even be kiosks in forgotten corners of bustling airports. They’re pun-named businesses – Pun Shop Names or PSN for short – and they make us laugh, cringe, think – sometimes all at once.
It’s not easy to explain a PSN to the uninitiated. But, let’s start with the definition of a pun. According to the Cambridge dictionary, a pun is:
“an amusing use of a word or phrase that has several meanings or that sounds like another word.”
In the commerce world, that often means a shop that will take a common phrase and perhaps change the first letter of the first word or first few words to make it relevant. For example, Avant Card, a stationary shop in San Francisco and “Chic to Chic,” a salon in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Or, it could mean simply using an expression that obviously means something different to colorfully characterize the nature of the store. For example, “Blown Away,” a blow dry bar in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and “Goin’ Postal,” a pack and ship store in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
They are most definitely not just cute spellings such a “Kwality Ice Cream,” an ice cream shop in Edison, New Jersey. Where’s the pun there? What does it make us think about? Move on. Nothing to see here.
Yet, take that same shop, call it “Koality Ice Cream,” locate it in Australia, and you’ve got yourself a bonafide PSN. It may take a passerby a few seconds to make the connection but the wry look on his face will surely follow.