10 Shelf-Sign Errors

By Mark Nichol

Errors on store signs are less egregious and more common than those on the products sold themselves, but one wonders, based on these photographs (and on the mistakes we see all the time while we’re shopping) if anybody who works in retail is paying any attention.

98 typo

Somehow, this rollback doesn’t seem like such a good deal. I assume the person who prepared the sign simply used the wrong currency symbol, and I assume store employees don’t ever look at the signs. This error rarely shows up in print or online, though redundant use of both dollars and the dollar sign (as in “He spent less than $500 dollars”) appears on occasion.

flue typo

What’s a flue shot? Getting ejected out of a chimney like a human cannonball? I’d pay twenty bucks for that — as long as a parachute is included in the cost.

guiness typo

The employee who typed this sign evidently didn’t have a 12-pack of “Genness” on hand for reference — or maybe they did, and sampled some.

poop

No, thanks — for some reason, I’m just not that hungry anymore.

hunt typo

Now, that, on the other hand, I might just have to try. (What was on that employee’s mind?) The N key, you’ll note, is close to but not adjacent to the K key, so a simple slip of a finger didn’t cause this typo.

potatoe typo

I’ve been wondering what Dan Quayle is up to these days. Not only is potato misspelled, but salads has an extraneous apostrophe. Third offense: Why “potatoe salad” but “macaroni salad’s”? Make both salads singular, or make both plural, Dan.

sandwich typo

And the person who type’s these sign’s is misinformed about how to style plural’s.

stationary typo

Stationary looks anything but — it appears that the word (which should be spelled stationery in this sense) and flashlights are about to make a break for it.

theather typo

Just what, exactly, is a Skittles Theather Box? Presumably, theathering is involved. It appears that this shelf holds every type of movie-watching snack but Skittles, but whatever.

tomatoes typo

The sign maker, and fellow Whole Foods employees, didn’t catch the dueling verbs at the beginning of the second line. As regular Daily Writing Tips readers are wont to remark, I make mistakes like this on occasion (despite reading posts aloud while I proof), but this error seems too obvious to overlook. And what’s up with “conventionally grown”? That’s an awkward counterpart to organic — why would any self-respecting Whole Foods customer buy something conventional?

These images are from the websites Apostrophe Abuse, English Fail Blog, GrammarBlog, The Great Typo Hunt, and Wordsplosion.

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28 Responses to “10 Shelf-Sign Errors”

  • Chihuahua Zero

    “No sandwich, sandwich”

    Someone clearly forgot to proofread that sign for redundancy before they printed the whole thing out.

  • Uma

    Till I read this I thought such errors were made only by Indians in Indian stores, specially the redundant apostrophe. Now I feel better!

  • Biri

    For some reason, the “theather” typo is quite common. I suspect the first “th” is a memetic agent designed to self-propagate via the weak-minded.

  • thebluebird11

    These crack me up. Thanks for sharing. After a long day and night of work, I needed a few laughs.
    @Mark: Maybe poop tarts taste better than Metamucil or prunes? Or maybe they work better or faster? Someday you might want to try them LOL
    @Biri: Although I don’t understand your comment, I finally “got” that theather was theater. I guess I don’t hang out in video stores. And I’m not fond of Skittles (altho I like almost every other candy known to humans).

  • Michael

    I always get a kick out of these things. Reminds me of when David Letterman would point out the funny ads in newspapers.
    The other day, I drove by a sign rented by UPS. It said:
    What day is your parcel coming?
    Get your new 2013 UPS calandar inside and keep track.

    Great post.

  • Laura

    I see mistakes such as these with my fourth graders, which means they didn’t learn to check their writing before turning it in. This is a very difficult skill to learn. Sometimes I use these posts to teach them how to check their writing- skipping over “Porn and Beans,” of course!

  • John Christian Hager

    In the “flue” example, I particularly enjoyed the fact that the erroneous sign is attached to another sign on which the word is spelled correctly.

    Thanks for the chuckle.

  • Roberto Lebron

    Cleanup on aisle four… This one gets shared.

  • Facetime

    Hello,

    I recently left my retail career, over five tough years, for a career in the financial industry. However, I have seen my share of awful signage in my stores, and some of the other store I audited.

    My thoughts on this, are actually quite simple, they stem from the lack of time given to most employees in the industry. What do I mean by time, well basically given that most employees work roughly about eight hours, the time permitted to them has to be divided into several duties. However, the division process is not fair. Customers have to be taken care of, new products have be put out, new planogram’s must done by deadlines, and district managers must be aquatinted. So, in short, though I think these signs are funny, I cant helo what these por souls were going through on that particular day.

  • Wanda

    What about “No sandwich, sandwich” in line 3. My gosh. Such a short ad and so many errors.

  • janet

    I love things like this and see similar signs in many places, which simultaneously amused and annoys me. One word I do know how to spell is “Guinness”, my default beer, whether there’s one near enough to read or not. 🙂

  • Mary

    Oh, we are surrounded by…. what? This calls to mind a hand-lettered sign I saw in a supermarket in Brooklyn, on a door at the rear of the store, that said, “No entry — Employees only — Trespassers will be violated!”

  • Dale A. Wood

    This common mistake in supermarkets is a simpler one:
    can soup, can fruit, can vegetables, can meat,
    when the word is really CANNED.
    canned soup, canned fruit, etc.

    I should know. My mother was an English teacher who also canned a lot of garden products during the summertime, and I know how she talked: canned beans, canned carrots, canned corn, canned jelly and jam, canned peas, canned peaches, canned pickles, canned tomatoes, etc. Mother did a whale of a lot of work in feeding her family, and my sister and I got drafted into the work epecially when it came to getting the peas (e.g. black-eyed peas) out of their pods to prepare them for canning. I think that it would do a lot of children a lot of good to do work like this and find out where food really comes from. No, it does not all come from McDonald’s and the supermarket.
    [My daughter learned all about canning and freezing by doing these with her grandmother – my mother.]

    Mother also moved on to preparing foods for freezing in the deep freezer, and that method is especially good for fruits such as blackberries, blueberries, nectarines, peaches, pears, strawberries, tangerines, etc.
    Having desserts in the wintertime and the early spring that were made with Mother’s frozen strawberries or peaches was a real treat!
    D.A.W.

  • Dale A. Wood

    This odd sign didn’t come from an aisle, but it did come on the front door of a small coffee & snack shop in San Diego. I will never forget it:

    PLEASE BARE WITH US.
    WE ARE TAKING A BRAKE.

    No kidding: I am quoting this one exactly, and I did not make it up.
    Since that shop was temporarily closed, I did not go inside, but rather I just moved on to other things that I needed to do.

    I also say a sign in a drugstore that was raising donations for the “CHILDREN HOSPITAL” in Birmingham, Alabama. I pointed out to an employee – who worked with this sign right above her shoulder – that it should be “CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL”. However, I went back to the same store the next week, and the same sign was still there: “CHILDREN HOSPITAL”.

    That sign was typed using a personal computer, and then printed out using an ink-jet printer. It would have been a simple matter to change the text to “CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL”, print it out again, and then replace the flawed sign. However, everyone there in that department was too lazy to do so. This is quite common now – nobody in such places has any embarrassment over flawed English.

    That drugstore has managers who have bachelor’s degrees (who are really responsible) and it also had pharmacists who have Master of Pharmacy or Doctor of Pharmacy degrees, but none of them noticed or did anything about cockeyed English – even after someone told them about it.

    You might think that this error was a trivial one, but consider these:
    Veteran’s Hospital, electrical worker’s union, doctor’s lounge, nurse’s lounge, teacher’s lounge, Officer’s Club, NCO’s club, pathologist’s laboratory, graduate student’s office, workmen’s compensation, etc., all of which contain the possessive.
    D.A.W.

  • Ellie

    Did anyone notice the duplicate sandwich in the last one?
    “No sandwich, sandwich, salad and burger is complete…”

    Careless, lazy, ignorant. I find it getting worse all the time.

    EP

  • EM

    I wonder if the “poop” typo was done on purpose. Someone had to have noticed it and deliberately left it up.

    I went to Catalina Island (CA) this fall and noticed these typos on a shuttle for the Glenmore Plaza Hotel in Avalon:

    Courtesy Shuttle, in room Jacuzzi’s

    A shelf label in the reference section of a bookstore (major chain):

    Vocabulary, Grammer

    And on a mailer (sent to thousands of customers) advertising a new quieter piece of equipment:

    Shh, be very, very quite…

    Augh. What are we to do?
    ~elise

  • Mark Nichol

    I was so distracted by the initial error in the Whole Foods sign that I neglected to notice the two additional mistakes: the repetition of sandwich and the use of and instead of or in that final sentence.

  • Brad McMillen

    These…are…awesome. Thanks for sharing.

    They remind me of one of my personal favorites. A bank in NYC had a sign touting its 24-hour ATM. Next to it was another sign that read “Hours of Operation: Monday ~ Friday, 9:00 AM ~ 5:00 PM”.

    So not only is it confusing as to whether the 24-hour ATM is in fact available 24 hours, the days and hours of the bank are confusing as well. The ~ means approximately in English (though in other languages it is used in place of the hyphen). So the bank’s open approximately Monday through Friday, with the hours being approximately 9 to 5.

  • Nelson Carter

    I was wondering why nobody caught the and/or error in that final sentence. Glad you finally did, Mark.

    I still cringe every time I see “its” mistyped as “it’s”. It’s been about 70 years since I lost first place in a spelling bee because the word “its” was defined as a possessive adjective and I knew that possissives were formed using an apostrophe. I just couldn’t let go of that apostrophe. But it was a lesson that has stayed with me since fifth grade.

  • b ramsay

    From the sandwhich sign: And the person who type’s these sign’s is misinformed about how to style plural’s.

    . . . and of course, in that sign, the abuse of initial capital letters.

  • Cathy

    Just wanted to clear up one little point. It was not, in fact, Dan Quayle who initially mispelled “potatoe.” The teacher had written it incorrectly on the answer card. Mr. Quayle caught and questioned the mistake, but was instructed to use that spelling.

    Just thought I’d pass along the credit to where it is due, the public school teacher. (Who was probably so excited/flustered about having him visit that one can easily understand her blunder).

    P.S. My boys loved this post. It made them “crack up.”

  • AinOakPark

    In the “conventionally grown” tomatoes photo it also says, “no sandwich, sandwich, salad and burger is complete…” Shouldn’t it be just one sandwich and shouldn’t it be “or burger is complete”?

  • Ron Estrada

    Actually, I think the Poop Tarts are just an effort at a little honesty in advertising.

  • DHH

    The best sign ever—from a grocery store in Ingleside, Texas:
    Incountenance Aids.

  • Mark

    Hilarious!

  • Sam

    I once read “trespassers will be prose cute” ! 😛

  • Jean Kearsley

    My favorite advertising sign blunder started its life as an email promotion for a local “haute cuisine” restaurant. Their master chef periodically gave public demonstrations of how he prepared his signature dishes. The restaurant invited us all to “witness Chef Michael prepare his trademark crab-filled wantons!”

    I advised the management of the restaurant that, while I was personally quite fond on wontons (“a small round dumpling with a savory filling, typically served in soup”), I wasn’t sure how much his patrons would approciate seeing Chef Michael prepare a batch of wantons (“an immoral, lewd or lacivious person, esp. a woman”) . . . crab-filled or not!

    Not only did the manager not appreciate the distinction, he had a full-color blowup of the original emailed poster prominently displayed in the lobby on the day of the event!

  • venqax

    @DHH
    The best sign ever—from a grocery store in Ingleside, Texas:
    Incountenance Aids.

    That’s pretty good, I’ll admit, but I’d have to enter the contest with a sign from a local Burger King here– a big street sign, no less– announcing that

    THE NEW A NUS BURGER IS HERE

    I had a pic of it on my cellphone. Even funnier, the guy who spotted and photographed it went into the store and pointed out the signthe manager who was completely incapabable of understanding what the problem was.

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