Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Obsessive possessive

Many businesses are named after their proprietors, using a possessive: Larry’s Auto Body, Audi’s Olde World Restaurant, Krisay’s Appliance and Bedding. Others, however, are not.

Growing up, my parents and I would fuel the car at Sheetz, and note with amusement that one of my uncles would instead go to “Sheetz’s.” But at least Sheetz is the name of the chain’s founder, so even if the sign says “Sheetz,” it is indeed Sheetz’s chain. So, okay, I guess. It still sounds better than Wawa.

The local Mexican restaurant, Rey Azteca (“Aztec King”) is a popular lunch spot for the guys at work. When I first started, they kept talking about “Rey’s.” I was briefly convinced that Original Famous Ray’s Famous Original Pizza had opened in Johnstown.

Since I reviewed a new restaurant, Ambrosia Fine Dining, one of the top search queries bringing visitors to my blog is [ambrosias johnstown pa]. (I have to assume it’s meant as a possessive, since pluralizing ambrosia makes even less sense.)

Is this insistence on possessivizing business names a local phenomenon, or more widespread? I don’t recall it happening when I lived in California.


  1. At the very least, it is a western PA thing. It's a commonplace thing in my hometown of Warren as well.

    In fact, I have only recently gotten over my habit of saying "Subway's," which is admittedly far worse than "Ambrosia's."

  2. Very common in the UK--e.g. Tesco supermarkets are regularly called Tesco's, and this is often commented upon. So, I wouldn't think it's terribly localized, but there may be something of a general trend in English toward(s) this?

  3. The possessive obsession is so commonplace, that, at one time, the Sheetz web-site offered "Friends don't let friends say Sheetz's" t-shirts at their on-line store. I don't see that t-shirt offered any more -- I'm sure they sold out very quickly! Too bad, I wanted to buy one as a gift for my brother.

  4. Recently I saw an ad for a local jewelry store and the print ad that was shown on the screen included the folowing: "Valentines's Day". They either need a proofreader or they need to replace the proofreader who thinks this is correct.


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