Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Store names

When I first moved to Georgia, I was intrigued by a "bottle shop" located just off the interstate. From its size and position (right next to a gas station), I gathered it was not a market for antique bottles, but I had no idea what it really did sell. It was only after some time that I finally learned that it sold alcoholic beverages.

Another common euphemism for liquor store is "package store." At least the products sold in a bottle shop are uniquely bottles; you can walk out of just about any store with a package, so this one seems particularly obscure. In Virginia, hard liquor sales are regulated by the government, and spirits can only be purchased in an ABC store -- Alcoholic Beverage Control (and not, as it sounds, a place for educational materials for primary school students). I can understand that this name is mandated by the government, but, in the case of bottle shops and package stores, I wonder why they don't just say outright what they sell. Surely it could only help sales to announce your product explicitly? Is there a law forbidding the use of "alcohol" or "liquor" in store names?

Georgia provided me with another case of a curious store name, just down the street from the bottle shop: the "Café Erotica." Café? This conjures up images of yuppies sipping cappucino and typing on the laptops while naked ladies dance in front of them. I don't know what I would call such a place, but I'm pretty sure that "café" would be near the bottom of the list. Do they think that it somehow appeals to their clientele? That seems unlikely.

It is interesting that they don't describe their establishment as a bar, since one would think they would serve alcohol. Perhaps "café" is the understood term for a strip joint that doesn't serve alcohol. Why wouldn't they, since alcohol has high profit margins and seems to mix well with "exotic dancing"? It may be prohibited. I have no evidence of that, but I heard when I lived in Columbus (Ohio) that a state law prohibited alcohol at establishments where women danced completely naked -- it could be sold, however, if they only went topless. I would love to have heard the debates in the legislature as they discussed that law.

Maybe, then, there is a Georgia statute limiting the sale of alcohol in strip joints. If not, I can't see why they wouldn't; and, if they did sell alcohol, I have trouble seeing why "Café Erotica" wouldn't be "Erotica Bar."

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