Nordstrom vs. Nordstrom’s: Why do we confuse company names?

By Janet Nguyen

August 8, 2019

Is it Nordstrom or Nordstrom’s? Kroger or Kroger’s? Sbarro or Sbarro’s?

Our minds tell some of us that it definitely needs the extra letter. That “s” — so brief, so unobtrusive, so natural sounding — sneaks easily into our lexicon. But oftentimes it’s unnecessary. (None of the aforementioned names are possessive.)

Adding to the confusion, sometimes companies don’t even follow their own naming conventions. It’s called “TGI Fridays,” but the company has also used the spelling “T.G.I. FRiDAY’s” in its logos and Nordstrom storefronts have displayed “Nordstrom’s” in the past.

Laurel Sutton, co-founder of the branding company Catchword Branding and vice president of the American Name Society, said we’re prone to mislabeling these companies because retailers like department stores and restaurants have a long history of being named after their founders and taking on the possessive form.

“That was the way you knew that the place you were shopping at had quality. There was a person behind it,” Sutton said…

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