walking around with Tigg and Justin, and we pass by a Banana Republic
outlet. And I think to myself a variation of what many people
probably have floating around their head as they reach for the
handle on the door… “Oh cool, a Banana Republic. Let’s go inside.”
As I open the door, I wonder why it’s been so long since I stepped
that the thought… “Oh cool, a Banana Republic. Let’s go inside.”…
is actually a deeper, somewhat inexplicable idea than just a happiness
at seeing the store and the desire to enter. There’s an attraction
there… in my mind, virtually a disconnect… that separates the
contents of the store from the name. I recently read an article
where Xerox was announcing that they were changing their logo
as part of a new marketing campaign. While considering this, I
realized I couldn’t think of what the logo they were changing
looked like. (Must have made quite an impression on me.) And the
same idea works here… Banana Republic… cool name. Fun… goofy…
be a part of something… shop at our store. I’m reaching for the
ask me if I know for certain what they sell. (Answer: nope.)
about five minutes (I’m being kind, it was more like two), I come
to the conclusion that they got me again. There wasn’t much of
anything inside Banana Republic that interested me. There never
has been anything inside Banana Republic of interest to me. (In
fact… has anyone ever found anything cool in a Banana Republic?
Sorry… that’s my out loud voice going off again. To stay in business
the way they have, obviously people aren’t meandering in and making
nothing but $4.50 “while I’m here I might as well” pity purchases.)
for me… and I still believe at least a few others join me… I had
been suckered in by the name… again… and I was wondering why.
name shouldn’t do it. A “banana republic” is one where the rich
create a ruling class that is essentially corrupt. They keep the
poor uneducated and at their service. The “banana” part not only
refers to the idea of tropical climates (hmm… go figure… most
places referred to this way are in regions where one would normally
picture bananas growing), but is also in the realm of the “top
banana” joke making it sort of an insult.
that’s a really simplistic definition and perhaps half-assed interpretation…
but still accurate. Is that the kind of store you’re looking for?
Corrupt and suppressive? Of course not… and it isn’t that kind
of store at all. You don’t think of banana republics when you
visit a Banana Republic.
makes for a unique, funny name. Would Broccoli Republic be as
successful? I think not. Wouldn’t be exotic either.
course, the history of the store does bring about some of the
reasoning. When the store first started, it was travel oriented
(and cool). Then the Gap bought it, seems to have used it as a
label rather than an experience and… well… you’ve seen the rest.
did get me wondering though. Are their other places I’ve ever
been attracted to because of a name that seemed to create an appealing
actually… there are.
Rhode Island has a mall known as The Arcade. At least, that’s
what we locals call it. The Westminster Arcade (fancy, official
name) is a multi-level, Greek-themed, fancy marble-ish building.
Really old too. I believe it may be the oldest shopping center
in the country, dating back some 150-170 years.
think there are three floors… so shoot me if it’s actually four.
The thing is… you walk in… and there are a couple of places to
eat. And the food looks ok. Actually… it looks pretty darn good.
And the place seems interesting. (Especially during the week,
when it is sort of a “the place to eat lunch” location for the
Monday through Friday business suits.)
you get something to eat… and it’s ok (not knock you on your behind
good, but it’s fine)… and you wander upstairs to see some of the
other stores. Not everything catches your eye, but every two or
three shops you see something in a window and meander in. And
you see enough that you reach the next set of stairs and without
hesitation you head up… or you decide to complete the full circle
(it’s one of those open-in-the-middle things on the second and
you’re done with your visit to The Arcade, you won’t have any
bags in your hands. No further out the door than the sidewalk,
and you already can’t really recall any of the stores you saw.
And while heading home, you think to yourself that it was nice
and clean and a fine way to spend an afternoon… but if you don’t
make it back, well, that would be ok.
you never do make plans to return. Doesn’t even cross your mind.
three or four (or eight (or more)) years later someone mentions
that they’re heading in to Providence for a meeting… or to do
some shopping… or just to get lunch someplace different… and hey,
would you like to go to The Arcade? And since you can’t recall
anything bad about the place… heck, you can’t recall anything
about the place… you figure that it sounds like a great idea to
check it out again and you go. Only you find when you arrive that
you suddenly remember exactly why you never think about going
the crazy thing… I want to go to The Arcade. Just typing this
article had me thinking about it. It was on my mind, so I used
it as a comparison in describing the Ferry Building in San Francisco.
I’m itching to go.
to pay for parking.
I already know I’m not likely to see anything once I
sure that there are plenty of places like the Banana Republic…
places that some people like and others don’t… but the name just
sounds so damn appealing that you simply have to check it out.
is it just me?