"Noble Salvage" as a name for an antique business: inspired or lame?
August 26, 2013 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Give me your opinion about my stupid smart business name idea.

I'm starting up a business dealing in antiquarian books, old maps, prints, and typewriters. Actually, I've been buying and selling stuff for over a decade, but I'm trying to formalize my efforts and make it into a real thing. As part of this, I need a business name. I'm fixated on the name "Noble Salvage". What's your opinion. Personally, my main concern is that the word "salvage" implies second-hand junk, which is not what I deal in. Anyway, rather than slant your response by going on and on, I'll just ask: what's your opinion? Thanks!
posted by crazylegs to Grab Bag (72 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Awkward. Either racist on purpose, or by ignorance.
posted by mollymayhem at 6:03 PM on August 26, 2013 [8 favorites]

It's got a good rhythm but noble savage has some bad connotations that are going to stick to it.
posted by jessamyn at 6:04 PM on August 26, 2013

Rolled a 1 on that one. I'd start over.
posted by theichibun at 6:04 PM on August 26, 2013 [6 favorites]

Well, I will tell you that most of the "salvage" places I've been to in the last decade plus of home ownership and true grownup life (as in, I have money to buy nice things) have been architectural salvage places, which definitely trend toward upscale (the stuff is well priced, but often very specialized, like Victorian door hardware and stuff. And they use "salvage" in the names of many of these businesses.

But my first instinct was "someone's going to really hate the connotation". It has a nice ring, but a louder awful ring.

How about "Beautiful Salvage"?
posted by padraigin at 6:04 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hmm. I say keep the savage/salvage part of the pun but take it out of the "noble savage" context, which as others have said has a loaded racial history that will rightly offend some for reasons that are worth exploring if you have not already. What other idioms or phrases involve the word savage? Use those.
posted by mermily at 6:07 PM on August 26, 2013

lame. I wouldn't go into the shop, assuming it would not have the kind of stuff I want (like padraigin, I like interesting architectural and historical salvage).
posted by arnicae at 6:08 PM on August 26, 2013

Personally, my main concern is that the word "salvage" implies second-hand junk, which is not what I deal in.

I think if the logo/sign design is good, this won't be a problem. I love the name!
posted by General Tonic at 6:10 PM on August 26, 2013

I'd also note that "Noble Salvage" is hard to say aloud -- so many consonants. It's sort of veering into "Rural Juror" territory. People will mangle it, including people you hire to answer the phone.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 6:11 PM on August 26, 2013 [11 favorites]

Clever, but unusable for evoking "Noble Savage" under any circumstance. Particularly wrong for your business because when I hear "salvage" I think, "reclaimed stuff I can use to renovate my house" not "old maps and books."
posted by deanc at 6:12 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

It would make me think of 18th century British literature and poetry (particularly that of Shelley and Blake), but probably you shouldn't do it just because that's not what most people think.
posted by Houstonian at 6:12 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

How about The Verdigrist?
posted by argonauta at 6:13 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Clever, but put me down as another vote for it being too loaded with unfavorable connotations.

Kinda like argonauta's The Verdigrist.....
posted by easily confused at 6:15 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Personally, my main concern is that the word "salvage" implies second-hand junk,

I don't even think anyone will get to that point, they'll get too stuck on the "Oh no you didn't!" aspect. I mean yeah, it's clever, but just...no.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 6:16 PM on August 26, 2013 [7 favorites]

My gut response would be "this place will be full of overpriced hipster crap and the staff will be obnoxious" because my first assumption would be "this is run by the kind of person who thinks it's cool to wear native regalia to music festivals or something, and who believes in ironic racism". Obviously, that's not what you're actually doing, as evidenced by the fact that you're asking, but it would be strongly, strongly negative to me. I have a 100-year-old house that needs a lot of repair and replacement, so going to salvage places is something I would do.

Also, you'd get a lot of bad press and snarking and you'd probably lose a modest but not insignificant number of customers of color.

What about "Noble Elements: Salvaged Goods"? "Noble Elements" is a chemistry pun. I like the idea of having "Noble" in the title. "Noble Wreckage"? "Noble Materials"? (That's a crafts/fabric pun). "Noble Elements" would be a name that would get me in the door, because it's a little bit of a pun and it sounds fancy without being hipstery.
posted by Frowner at 6:17 PM on August 26, 2013 [15 favorites]

Old timey offices make me think of Bartleby the Scrivener. Bartleby is already a well known online book source but Scrivener could be worked with. The Scrivener Shoppe? Scrivener and Sons?
posted by padraigin at 6:18 PM on August 26, 2013

As someone who studies anthropology, I would be downright grossed out by this title for a business. It is awful for the racism and/or ignorance of history implied in the punning.

Further, it would also allow me assume that whomever opened the shop was a dilettante of the worst sort. Perhaps selling items whose provenance they didn't really know, or whose use they couldn't explain. But either way, I would not expect professionalism or open mindedness in a place with this name.

I'd run.
posted by bilabial at 6:21 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

The bigger problem is that it doesn't say much about the business. I wouldn't have guessed antiquarian books, old maps, prints, and typewriters.

Offensiveness is minor. Sure, people who appreciate "The Verdigrist" are probably some sensitive souls. But that one oozes pretentiousness.

I would say avoid too-clever names unless what you're trying to sell is more of a "lifestyle".
posted by 2N2222 at 6:24 PM on August 26, 2013

Response by poster: Well, although as I said I've been kind of fixated on this name, this is just the kind of feedback I need. If such a large percentage of people are going to assume I'm some kind of closet racist, it's obviously not the name I'm looking for.

It's weird, I've read many books in my life, and am pretty well educated, but I never really picked up the racist connotations of the term noble savage. I think of Rousseau and his idealistic ideas of humans in a state of nature.

I suppose I shouldn't call it "White Man's Burden" either?
posted by crazylegs at 6:24 PM on August 26, 2013 [6 favorites]

My first impression is that it's clever, exactly because of the Victorian-era connotations. You'd expect pith helmets and waxed mustaches.

You'll be missing out on the word of mouth when Rick Perry uses that phrase during the first primary debate in 2016.

But worst, it does fall off the tongue like a stubbed toe.

My favorite old stuff shop was the late, lamented Deluxe Junk.
posted by Kakkerlak at 6:25 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

It would be like naming a crystal store, "Crystal Nights" - don't do it. And do do White Man's Burden - wtf?! I don't know, man, I feel like you're kind of romanticising some really problematic aspects of colonial history. If you're hooked up on it, the closest I would go is "Stanley and Livingstone" or something. If you want to appeal to hipsters, "Salvage Genes" is just begging to be used.
posted by smoke at 6:29 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: "White Man's Burden" was a joke. I would not name my business this.

I was also considering "Qwerty". It would bring in the typewriter nerds, but its greatest advantage is that it's even more awkward to say than "Noble Salvage".
posted by crazylegs at 6:31 PM on August 26, 2013 [6 favorites]

I like where your head's at but agree that the negative connotations range from waxed moustache to worse. What about Patina & Co.?
posted by a halcyon day at 6:37 PM on August 26, 2013

Qwerty - sounds like Quirt(y).

Days of Wind and Roses
posted by tilde at 6:38 PM on August 26, 2013

If you go with "Qwerty", you're gonna have to spell it out carefully every single time you mention the business name or website.
posted by cadge at 6:39 PM on August 26, 2013

Turn of the page? (Turn of the Screw)
Ode? (Your pick of Keats)
On Reading? (because so many old poems were "On" something)
The Relic? (Are you sassy? Maybe some Donne)
posted by zizzle at 6:41 PM on August 26, 2013

I like Qwerty!
posted by latkes at 6:41 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, noble salvage probably is too fraught.

(for your sarcasm appreciator, Niggardly Salvage)

posted by Jacen at 6:43 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wind and Roses

For Whom the Bell Tomes
posted by tilde at 6:43 PM on August 26, 2013

Literary Salvage?
posted by jacalata at 6:45 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I came in here hoping for the excuse that your last name was Noble. No. Okay. No.

second-hand junk, which is not what I deal in

Oh, be realistic; you're flogging old typewriters and maps to nowhere -- you're a junk dealer; it's a good and honest living when one is not a pretentious profiteer.

For that reason (honest, unpretentious, etc) I would suggest "C. Razylegs*, Antiques -- Specialist in Maps, Typewriters, Books, Prints" or something else equally unexciting. There are a lot of preciously named second-hand places coming and going these days and few people want to enthuse to their friends about Sillyplace Cutename. But "I bought it off a dealer named [...]" is easy to drop into conversation; it makes one sound like the sort of person who has typewriter dealers chasing them down, having identified them as shrewd connoisseurs of typewriters. Which is what your usual typewriter customer is going to want to come off as.

* use actual name
posted by kmennie at 6:46 PM on August 26, 2013 [5 favorites]

Qwerty makes me think of a computer, which I'm pretty sure is the opposite of what you're going for.
posted by threeants at 6:50 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Gentleman Scholar
Colonel Mustard's Study
posted by Behemoth at 6:51 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Salvage Garden? You could sell chicky-cherry colas.
posted by entropicamericana at 6:52 PM on August 26, 2013 [13 favorites]

Dry Salvages. (Too literary?)
posted by LucretiusJones at 6:52 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

How about:

The Antiquarian's Supply & Sundry
posted by The Michael The at 6:54 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Dry Salvages

Plus, nobody wants wet salvages.
posted by pullayup at 6:56 PM on August 26, 2013

Response by poster: Apparently I've started something. Now that Noble Salvage has been effectively killed off, the Minds of Metafilter move into the void. I can feel myself being drawn in... to the Great Antique Store Pun Name Extravaganza... Must resist... must... resist...

How about "The Void?" Nah.

Sticking with literature, I'll name it after a book. "The Abortion". Perfect.

How about Brautigan's? How about Brought Again? How about Bought Again?

This could drive you crazy.
posted by crazylegs at 6:59 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: How about "The Wasteland"? Catchy.
posted by crazylegs at 7:00 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Doc Salvage?
posted by Garm at 7:02 PM on August 26, 2013 [5 favorites]

Late Antiqwerty
posted by deanc at 7:02 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I know you were joking, but what about something from Brautigan's poetry collections? In Watermelon Sugar and Shovelling Mercury with a Pitchfork are pretty memorable titles, even though i read small parts of those collections years ago. They could imply the sort of funkiness that comes with an antique shop.

Alternatively, stick with the original name but include a vintage Chief Wahoo on the signage? I kid.
posted by charlemangy at 7:04 PM on August 26, 2013

Response by poster: "Doc Salvage" is the best suggestion yet. In Watermelon Sugar would be an amazing name, but it's just too weird for the relatively normal part of Ontario in which I live. I was about to suggest "An Absence of Camels", an obscure reference to Borges that's so pretentious that it's not even pretentious anymore, and it's an amazing phrase, but again, just too weird.
posted by crazylegs at 7:07 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I like Qwerty.

I also think you could go somewhere (else) with the Savage/Salvage punning.

Charms to soothe the Salvage Beast (probably too long)

"Less salvage than the other salvages" (Mark Twain: “There are many humorous things in the world, among them the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages” - probably too obscure, but I think it's hilarious for a second-hand shop).
posted by lollusc at 7:09 PM on August 26, 2013

Response by poster: "Doc Salvage" is great for several reasons:

It's short and easy to say.

It doesn't make people think I'm a racist.

It's a reference to the era that a lot of my stuff comes from, the 1930s and 1940s.

It provides many opportunities to use cool retro pulp graphics and fonts in my promotions.

For the obscurely minded, it's a reference to document salvage.
posted by crazylegs at 7:12 PM on August 26, 2013

My parents have owned several different incarnations of their antique store. Often it is called by the address of the store: Antiques at 123 Main St.. Sometimes it is called Lastname Antiques. Now it actually has a truly horrible name, a hyphenation of CrazyBrainstormWord-hyphen-Lastname Antiques. They have been extremely successful in this most recent incarnation, the one with the horrible name, but they wish that circumstances had not evolved to give it quite so dumbass a name. Just plain Lastname Antiques would have been fine with them. (I could make a list of the awful names of their competitors, but let's maintain a thin veneer of discretion, if not anonymity.)

Another branch of the family used to own a shoe store. Lastname Shoes. It, too, was very successful.

Lots of contractors are called by their last name...but, still, my father's fiendishly successful contracting firm is called S. K. Lastname Contracting.

My boyfriend's father owned a niche-market butcher store. The Lastname Meat Market. Laugh if you will. He made good money.

WADR to other commenters. Most of these are horrible names for a bricks-and-mortar store and only slightly passable for an online venture. Ask yourself: are you here to have fun? Or are you here to make money? You want simple, easy, rolls off the tongue, not precious, not cute. There's a reason to use your ADDRESS in a business name.

OP. My advice to you. Talk to someone, several someones, in your locality who own retail businesses. Doesn't have to be even vaguely related to your endeavor. Put together a few of your favorite ideas and see what THEY think.
posted by skbw at 7:13 PM on August 26, 2013 [5 favorites]

I like Querty. It makes me think more of old typewriters than computers, and it also makes me think of "quirky" which is a very good association for a collectibles & ephemera shop to have. You could make your sign look like old typewriter keys!
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:16 PM on August 26, 2013

Ha... I just realized I misspelled Qwerty. It's not like it was right here in front of me or anything....
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:46 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Salvage is a great word and I encourage you to use it in the name. I usually have very sensitive politcal filters but I appreciated the pun in "Noble Salvage" and would have assumed it was knowing and postmodern and cool, calling out rather than endorsing the word's history, but if it strikes a lot of people wrong, that can't be helped and you should not risk it. But keep on pursuing the "Salvage" idea. It doesn't sound cheap, it sounds cool, adventurous, and somehow involving feats of strength and heavy equipment and major history.
posted by Miko at 8:04 PM on August 26, 2013

Seconding skbw. If you expect most of your sales to be books, put Books in the name of your biz.

Doc Salvage is clever, but most people won't get it, and I at least would assume you were running a junkyard.

Antiquarian Books might be OK, but even the word Antiquarian is pushing it. You want Joe Average to have a pretty good idea of what your biz is from the name.
posted by mattu at 8:38 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

"Antiquarian" doesn't really have a much better history, politically speaking, than "noble savage" when it comes to the past. It's also very stuffy-sounding - if you don't want your business conflated with stuffy, dusty, conservative versions of the business, I would avoid using the word in anything other than a distinctly reframed context.
posted by Miko at 8:41 PM on August 26, 2013

Noble Mold. I came across it in a short story where it pertained to wine, but it works for salvage too.
posted by PussKillian at 9:10 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ephemera Etcetera
posted by a humble nudibranch at 9:24 PM on August 26, 2013

Bought Again is actually kind of cute, and makes your line of business pretty clear.
posted by deliciae at 9:35 PM on August 26, 2013

Salvage Edge? I suppose the pun is with fabric/textiles, which isn't necessarily what you're all about, but it has a certain je ne sais I don't know what.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:38 PM on August 26, 2013

The Salvage Beast
posted by Ideefixe at 9:49 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Andrew Bird had an album called Noble Beast ... perhaps that?
posted by furtive at 9:50 PM on August 26, 2013

Salvage Love?
posted by ninazer0 at 10:39 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Well, I came here to suggest Salvage Love or The Waste Land (it's two words, btw), and I still love both of them, but how about The Foul Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart?
posted by Acheman at 12:13 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Written World
posted by blue_beetle at 12:32 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's a lot of cute puns here, but I don't think many of them get across what it is you actually do -- they communicate the "old stuff" part, but nothing about the specific category. I'd try to work something about paper into the title -- it's the commonality among all the things you specialize in (with a bit of a stretch for the typewriters). I think "Literary Salvage" is kind of nice. Perhaps a pun on parchment, which is a pleasing word?

I think the right approach for naming depends on how you think you'll get business. Are you setting up an eye-catching storefront in a popular pedestrian area? You can afford to go quirky with the name. But if you're relying on people making a trip just for your store or finding your store from searches, I'd make sure your name communicates what you sell. Something straightforward like "Name's Maps and Ephemera".

To give an example, there's a store near me called "Radish Underground". I would never in a million years pick that store out of Google results or the yellow pages, but when I walk by, I see cute things in the window and consider going in. It's a few blocks from major tourist destinations, and surrounded by other cute boutiques, so window appeal is it's marketing. If that's your store, pick a quirky pun name. But otherwise, make sure the name tells potential customers something.
posted by duien at 12:37 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

As someone who's been through this, please now consult with a trademark attorney to insure that you proceed in an informed manner.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:16 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Salvage Beauty
posted by illenion at 3:03 AM on August 27, 2013

"An Odd Type"
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:24 AM on August 27, 2013

Doc Salvage sounds like you could help me restore some old document that I found in the attic. Be prepared for calls of this nature if you go that route.
posted by mightshould at 4:27 AM on August 27, 2013

Duien's point about Radish Underground and foot traffic is good. BUT--speak to a book dealer for more perspective--I am not sure that antiquarian books are much bought by someone just walking in as part of an exploration of a cool neighborhood. (I AM someone who goes to "explore a cool neighborhood," so I'm not making fun.) This is not really a general interest business.

Think of the book collector in town for a few days. Budget of even a couple thou, depending on where you are. "OK. I went to Smith [Books]. I went to Jones. I went to Antiquarian. Someone mentioned Doc Salvage. New. This is a book dealer? I don't need to go to somebody's little shoppe. Maybe next time, when I have more time. Anyway. I think I did pretty well."

Or, put another way, is there a reason why you DON'T want your business name to be self-explanatory?

Think of it this way. The REST of your brand can be quirky if you want. Store itself, mailers, website, business cards, bags, employees.
posted by skbw at 5:28 AM on August 27, 2013

Type Castaways
posted by mikepop at 5:44 AM on August 27, 2013

Another true story: my mother, who does not live in a village, once named a business after the heroine of a Flaubert novel about a frustrated housewife. Fictionfirst Fictionlast Antiques. She was in a major city at the time. Who is that, people asked. Your mother? AND the word Antiques was there.

The horrible hyphenated name they have at present? The CrazyBrainstormWord part? They spent a lot of time vetting it, also going for old, sexy, hip, and THEN a square American car came out with the same name the next year, probably within the next few months. Children of Odin Books is not the worst name for a kids' bookstore, I can think of worse...until GM releases the Odin sedan.
posted by skbw at 5:44 AM on August 27, 2013

Salvage Grace, Salvage Love (people who like Dan Savage would be amused), Salvage Romance, Honest Salvage, One Man's Treasure, Authentic Salvage. I would, however, call it Patina, because that's one of the things I like about old stuff.
posted by theora55 at 11:53 AM on August 27, 2013

Just as a datapoint, there's a record store in these parts called The Vinyl Solution and I cringe to carry their bags. Because I am an idiot, it never occurred to me til one day I was talking about the store to my boss and she reacted strongly.

Part of me thought, what's the big deal? Obviously no-one would name their store after something so horrendous. The store owner is just being cute. But you know what? The hell with that.

I like Doc Salvage too.
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:53 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Gotta vote against 'Doc Salvage' --- makes me think of a used bookstore specializing in 1930s science fiction: right era for what you want, but it implies the wrong merchandise.
posted by easily confused at 4:07 PM on August 27, 2013

Fred Salvage's Wonder Years.
posted by duffell at 10:49 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Maps To Nowhere is a GREAT name.
posted by mippy at 9:44 AM on November 21, 2013

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