Whenever I go home in between semesters, my mom tends to send my brother and me on so many errands that my summer and winter break agendas can almost compete with my weekly schedule during the school year. (I exaggerate, but it feels that way when all I want to do is eat some home-cooked meals and set the world record for watched number of complete TV series during one vacation).

This past summer, my brother had enough time sandwiched between a dentist appointment and a haircut to swing by the mall and pick up a few things.  When he got home, before I had the chance to ask him if he wanted to watch any or all of the “Parks and Recreation” episodes that we had missed during the year, he said to me, “Did you ever notice how stupid some store names are?”  I asked him what he meant, to which he responded, “Well, some of the shop names that I saw as I was walking around the mall seemed either really tacky or just made absolutely no sense.  Like that place BareEscentuals. What words can we infer that they combined to make ‘escentuals’?  Essence, essential, scent, sensual?”  I thought about what he had said in between episodes of “30 Rock,” and he had a point.  If this makeup company was trying to be so clever shouldn’t their play on words be slightly more obvious?

As I drove around the next day in a haze of appointments, I started to make my own observations about my brother’s remark.  Among the dearth of tanning salons in New Jersey, I saw one called Sinful Tans.  I don’t go tanning myself, but to anyone who does: Is that a name that would appeal to you?  You might as well call it Burn in Hell Tans, which actually makes more sense.

I then made my way to the mall to check out the stores for myself.  Besides Bare Escentuals, I took note of two other shops, Perfume Kraze and 2 Cute. I’m sorry, but substituting “k” for “c” or “2” for “too” or “to” doesn’t make the name any more witty or creative.  Then again, about 90 percent of customers at the mall are teeny-boppers who find that stuff amusing, so these business owners might deserve more credit than I’m giving them.  Also, I’m not sure if the kiosk ‘So Ho Fashion’ deliberately left out the space between the first two words or if someone just failed to pick up on the typo, but I’m thinking that it was the latter.

All of these examples will probably just fuel some jokes about New Jersey being the armpit of America, the guido capital of the world and now the home to storeowners who don’t think before they open a small business. (My friend once had a birthday party at a pottery studio called A Time to Kiln.)  As proof that poor product labeling extends beyond the Garden State, here’s a case that I witnessed just a few days ago in Georgetown as every shop stocked up on Halloween-related merchandise: The description on a pair of gloves read “Child Predator Hands.”  Judging by the size of the gloves, I think that it was intended to say something more along the lines of “Predator Hands — Child Size,” but the error apparently wasn’t conspicuous enough to catch anyone’s attention.

I also recall a store called The Athlete’s Foot, which still exists but operates in a significantly lower number of locations than it did ten years ago.  To be perfectly frank, the company shares a name with a foot fungus, which would be like me opening a restaurant and calling it Food Poisoning or TheTraveller’s Diarrhea.  It’s no wonder why The Athlete’s Foot went bankrupt — people decided to buy their shoes from less disease-ridden-sounding stores such as Famous Footwear and Foot Locker.

If I had a business-savvy bone in my body, I would come up with some awesome name for a company and open my own store.  Sadly, I don’t, so I’m leaving it up to the MSB-ers to remember whatever their English professors may have taught them and am hoping for the best.

Allie Doughty is a senior in the College. GEORGETOWN BABEL appears every Friday in the guide.

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