Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What's in a Name?

Not long ago it dawned on me that throughout this site’s existence, over six years now, I’ve never taken the time to explain the origin of its name. You see, the phrase “Pleasant Family Shopping” is associated with my earliest retail memories – it’s among my earliest memories of any kind, in fact.

From 1962 through the mid-70’s, the phrase appeared on the facade of nearly all Jewel-Osco combination food and drug stores (“Master Markets”, they were called in the early days), in a distinctive orange font on a white background. In my case, at the Des Plaines/Elmhurst Road location, it was on a white-painted brick section next to the entrance, at what seemed a mile above my eye level at the time. If you take a look at our very first post, click to enlarge the photo and squint real hard - you’ll see it.

More common were the “ranch-style” (or as Jerry Lewis would put it, “ranch-type style”) Jewel-Oscos, like the Highland Park, Illinois location (opened 1962, photographed mid-70’s) pictured above, where the slogan was displayed front-and-center inside an extra wide gable. A great many variants of this design were built.

In the summer of 2007, when I was kicking around the idea of starting a blog, I put together a mental shortlist of several names. I came this close to calling it “Supermarkets Past.” (How lame is that? It would have been very limiting as well, since we’ve covered numerous forms of retail over the years.) Then I kind of liked “More Posts About Buildings and Food” (Yeah, like I need legal trouble with David Byrne), and finally there was the old standby “Dave’s Retail Reminiscences”. (Or "rumblings" or "rants". Guaranteed to attract six readers a year. Leap year.)

Finally, the perfect name came to me – the phrase I’d seen on that wall, week after week, year after year as a kid.  To me it’s broad, yet specific, open to interpretation by individual readers, the way it should be. 

In 2010, I applied for and received official trademark rights to “Pleasant Family Shopping.”  Jewel, who never trademarked it in the first place, stopped using the phrase around 1976. In the 1978-80 remodeling program, it disappeared from most storefronts, hanging on a bit later on others.

So there you have it, O curious ones - an answer to one of life’s “great” mysteries. Ah, but there are many more, far more important retail mysteries to explore, and I promise the next posts will be more substantive. Thanks for bearing with me!