Test your L.A. IQ:
You are driving 35 miles per hour on Santa Monica Boulevard near La Cienega Boulevard in West Hollywood when you see this large sign:
What is the sign advertising?
A. A belly-dancing academy.
B. A cosmetic surgery clinic specializing in the rejuvenation of lady parts.
C. An ambitious one-named Brazilian model hoping to become a model-actress.
The correct answer is (D) None of the above. If you're curious enough about the sign, as I was, that you find a parking space, cross either of the very busy boulevards, and zoom in for a closer inspection, you see this:
Kind of downmarket-looking for a "premium experience." And "Famima" strikes me as too perilously close to "famine" to suit a sandwich joint.
Then there's the punctuation. I'd seen single exclamation points in business names--for example, BevMo!--but the double exclamation point is new to me, and peculiar looking.
The big green sign also displays a URL, which I neglected to photograph. When I got to a computer and searched for "Famima," I discovered the Japanese parent company's website, in Japanese. Famima USA is a little more helpful: I learned that the company has 13,000 outlets throughout Asia, and that Famima USA was established in 2004. The "Famima!! Difference" amounts to "redefining the convenience store." For example:
We don't just have soup, we have soup!!
Now!! I!! Get!! It!!
As for the name, here's the official story:
About 35 years ago, Famima!! started in a small Japanese neighborhood as FamilyMart. In fact, the name Famima!! comes from an abbreviation of FAMIlyMArt. Since then, FamilyMart has remained virtually the same, offering fresh goods, a selection of grocery items and popular quick-foods that can be eaten on the run or taken home as a meal.
"Famima" may sound yummy to a native speaker of Korean, Thai, or Japanese, but like several other imported names, in English it's ... not so good.