Friday, July 8

Two months in Malawi: Business names

Mangochi offers little for those who shop for amusement and distraction. Every shop and every stall carries the same products from the same suppliers. If you find one printed Tanzanian shawl you like at one stall, you are going to find it again at the next five shawl stalls. Everyone who sells plates and bowls carries the same Chinese ceramics. No matter how many bicycle shops you visit, your choice is still only between the Hunter and the Humber. There isn’t even much fun to be had in bargaining and haggling as the shopkeepers generally give you their best price first. Rather, the real fun to be had in shopping in Mangochi is in the shop and stall names.

Of the first order are the literal and straightforward. You can buy new clothing every Friday from the Fair Price Clothing Shop and be shaved at The Nice Cut Barbershop. There is the Snack Attack Restaurant and Resthouse and Sonny’s Stitch 4 Life Studio.

Then there are the Christian and Muslim faithful who operate Miracle Printers and Blessings Electronics. If these are too subtle declarations of faith, there are also Jesus Is My Boss Mini-Shop and God is Good Cosmetics and Salon.

I would have expected Black Boy Fashion Wear and Niggaz Music Centre to deny me entrance, but they accepted my patronage as well as any other shop.

Boyz 2 Barber Shop and Quiet Boyz Sound Company are just great names, but the greatest class of names overall are for those stores which admit in their names that their customers shouldn’t expect very much. Maybe Imagination Another wants you to imagine that they’re a different wholesaler. If you want to upgrade from the OK Restaurant and Resthouse, you can go to the OK Executive Lodge. That’s not including Time Tells Variety Shop, My Mistake Hyper, Slow But Sure Food Shop, Mixed Bag Shopping, Mzasi For Show Variety Shop and the Cheap-Cheap Shop.

All of this humility is only countered by the very overqualified Dr. Ishu Cellphone Repair.

No comments: