Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Alan Cartridge, Sellfridges and William the Concreter: my favourite shop and business names

The Codfather was a fish and chip shop – part of a chain - that opened near us a few years ago (and then, sadly, closed). Near our local tube station, Turnham Green, we have the dry-cleaners, “Turn ‘em Clean”. On Chiswick High Road, there’s the sofa shop called Highly Sprung. Get the drift? Britain is addicted to shop names based on puns or other forms of word-play. Some people affect to find this tedious, but for me it's a source of pleasure: shopping is a horrible experience at the best of times, and I welcome any sort of distraction.

The Local Data Company recently selected what they considered the ten best pun shop names from around Britain and then got the public to vote for their favourite. Here are the results:

Junk And Disorderly, Chesterfield 33.3%
Pane In The Glass, Ashford 18.8%
Barber Blacksheep, Brighton 14.5%
Abra Kebabra, Manchester 13%
World Of Woolcraft, Gillingham 10.1%
Sofa So Good, Edinburgh 7.2%
Heaven Scent, London 1.4%
Hippy Daze, Lancing 1.4% (internet café)
Pawchester Cat Hotel, London 0%
Licence 2 Fill, Torquay 0%

Personally, I think there are far better ones available. Here are a few of my favourites (and I realise they’re not all puns):

Ryan-Hair (barber – Victoria)
Alan Cartridge (printer cartridges - Leeds)
Sellfridges (Stoke Newington)
Surelock Homes (locksmiths – various places)
Nin Com Soup (restaurant, Old Street EC1)
Tree Wise Men (tree surgeons, North London)
William the Concreter (concrete supplies, Kent and Sussex)
Jack the Stripper (door, furniture and metal stripping – Twickenham)
Jack the Clipper (barber – Whitechapel)
Florist Gump (Bunbury)
Grate Expectations (Wimbledon Chase)
Iron Maiden (professional ironing – Kingston-Upon-Thames)
Fishcotheque (Fish & Chips - Waterloo)
Get Stuffed (taxidermist, Canonbury)
Melon Cauli (greengrocer, Birmingham)
Napoleon Boiler Parts (plumbers supplies, Alton)

This is an Anglospherical phenomenon. Australia has Wok Around the Clock, Electricity Bill (an electrician called, er… Bill), Holy Sheet (linen shop), Curl Up & Dye (hairdresser), Splashdown (portaloos) etc. The United States aren’t far behind, with Master Bait & Tackle (Juanita Springs, Florida), The Dirty Hoe (gardening services – Asheville, Michigan), C’est Cheese (cheese shop, Santa Barbara), Latte Da Dairy (Flower Mound, Texas), Old Volks Home (VW service and repairs, Richmond, Virginia). And there are tons in Canada, but I’m running out of steam.

You can find more examples here and here.

Of course, there’s lost of word-play in other languages, but I wonder if that makes it into shop names? Perhaps some of my well-travelled readers can assist?


  1. Wasn't there a cobbler in London called R. Soles, not so many years ago? I'm sure I remember it in or around the King's Rd.

    I have a (predictable) fondness for that Chinese restaurant too, Ho Lee Fook.

    1. Turns out Britain's stuffed with R. Soles - for instance:

  2. According to a friend, in New Jersey there is a firm providing home help services called Spruce Springclean. On a warning note, any one who thinks it a good idea to opt for a witty variation on other well known business names should think again. A womens`' salon business called Hair-rods was successfully sued a while ago for brand misappropriation or some such offence.

    1. You don't need to go that far - there are Spruce Springcleans here in the UK. I'd have included them if I'd known