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Peculiarly named menswear stores – an occasional Samizdata series


Minsk, Belarus. May 2014

Ah yes. Marc O’Polo, the great Irish explorer who travelled to and returned from the O’Rient.

32 comments to Peculiarly named menswear stores – an occasional Samizdata series

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    I have Mark Holland to thank for the remark about Marc O’Polo being an Irish traveller to the O’Rient, BTW. That’s too witty for me.

  • Regional

    O’Bama is Irish

  • CaptDMO

    Does the Marc O’Polo franchise ALSO sell upscale Paddy O’ Furniture?

  • Regional

    An acquaintance of mine was named Paddy O’Toole by his parents.

  • cirby

    I worked at a pet store convention last year, and that whole industry would collapse if they banned puns in company names.

  • Gene

    I worked at a pet store convention last year, and that whole industry would collapse if they banned puns in company names.

    Don’t give anyone the idea. From what I’ve learned at Brit sites like this, I’m sure there are some Guardian readers who would approve of exactly that, just because.

  • Nick (natural genius) Gray

    And here I thought that free-market libertarians were against marcopolies. I’ll marc that up to experience.

  • Phil B

    His cousin on his mothers side went into the building trade – you might have heard of him … Paddy O’Doors

  • Thon Brocket

    And of course Rick O’Shea, who when drunk, bounces off walls.

  • Mr Ed

    The first Irish Scotsman to win Wimbledon was Jock O’Vitch.

  • Phil B

    Or the unknown Irish diarist – Phil O’fax

  • David S

    One of the Goon Shows referred to that well known dance band leader Edmund O’Ross

  • Tanuki

    The hairdressing industry seems also beset with criminally-bad puns in naming of its shops.

    And for surrealism there was a plastic-replacement-double-glazing company I once did some IT-consultancy for that called itself “Diana Doors” – named after Swindon’s answer to Marilyn Monroe.

  • Thwack!

    Dont forget that hero of Scots dentistry, Phil McCavity.

  • I have Mark Holland to thank

    What happened to him? Loved his blog, back in the day.

  • AndrewWS

    The pun’s all the more remarkable for being in still-Communist Belarus and being in Latin script rather than Cyrillic. How many of the locals get the joke or can even read the sign?

  • PeterT

    It’s not a pun. It’s a mistake.

    Not quite the same but reminded me of this site:


  • Looks like a pun to me.

  • llamas

    A large sherbet for the first person who can provide Diana Dors’ real name, and thus the reason why she changed it. No Wikipedia now, this is for hardcore trivia buffs only.

    Imagine my amazement, while taking the first mrs llamas to the dentist, to see that Hotblack Desiato (Hitchiker’s Guide) is not a made-up name, but actually a firm of estate agents somewhere in North London.



  • It’s very common for shop and other business names to be written in Latin script in places where the local language is not usually written in Latin. This is true in Belarus and Russia, but also true in Japan, China, the Arab world and other places to varying degrees. It’s also common for the Latin script to at least appear to be trying to say something in English. That the resulting business names often end up seeming peculiar to native English speakers does tend to suggest that the names are often not intended to be understood by their customers. Clever ones probably contain multi-lingual puns that the native English speaker may not understand.

    My hunch is that most people in Belarus can read the Latin alphabet (and so pronounce such shop names), although most do not speak English well.

  • Douglas Adams’ Hotblack Desiato story was that he had the character of the ludicrously overblown rockstar who is spending a year dead for tax reasons in his head, but couldn’t think of a good name for the character. Driving through north London one day he walked past the shopfront of Hotblack Desiato, Estate Agents, and realised that the name was perfect. So he asked for permission from Hotblack Desiato – not sure if that is just a business name of if there really is someone called that – to use the name. He did this, and apparently everybody has been accusing the estate agents of stealing the name from him ever since.

  • Tedd

    Trivia: Business names that are plays on words are banned in Saskatchewan, Canada.

  • Huh? Is it being enforced, Tedd?

  • Richard Thomas

    MJ: My guess would be that it’s a partnership. Two surnames.

  • NickM

    How about this from round where I used to live…


    Yes, Manchester boasts a pet store called “Gay Lyfe”.

    God knows…

  • I doubt it, Richard, as these would not be surnames typical in Belarus.

  • Mr Ed

    Alisa, why shouldn’t there be any Irish names in Belarus (Soviet and Nazi purges apart)?

    A Welshman, John Hughes, founded what is now Donetsk in the Ukraine.

  • My favorite is a hair salon up the road named Belle du Jour — presumably, it specialises in hairstyles for the “working girls” of suburban Plano (both of them).

    There’s also the splendidly-named Fuk Mi sushi restaurant in New Hampshire (I have a pic somewhere for proof).

    And from memory, in the Chicago area there’s a small chain of (wait for it) Irish-Mexican restaurants called Carlos O’Murphy’s.

  • Well Ed, I guess it would depend on what Richard was thinking of…

  • There is a Vietnamese restaurant in Chelsea called Phat Phuc… ‘Phat Phuc’ in Vietnamese translates as ‘Happy Buddha’ says the website… yeah sure 🙂

  • Laird

    Alisa, I think Richard was referring to the estate firm of Hotblack Desiato, not to Marc O’Polo, as being two surnames in a partnership.

  • Nick (natural genius) Gray

    On the Graham Norton Show, they showed a photo of a London hair salon which was called Blonde Dye Bleach, set up by Sydney ex-pats, no doubt!
    Alisa, have you realised that your country’s name can be converted into a tricky theological question? You can answer us- Is Ra El?