Local is weird

Not long ago I was talking with Gib Olander from Localeze, our main data supplier.  The topic was local data, and how weird it can be: Some things look like they must be mistakes—except they’re not.

Gib’s example was a place that sells custom rims and also cellphone service.  If you saw the business listed under both categories, you might figure one was wrong. But Gib can show you a photo of Cell ‘n’ Wheels that proves otherwise.

I laughed. The example wasn’t so terribly outrageous, and Localeze certainly has an interest in promoting this idea.  :)  Yet at the same time, I happened to know of a much better illustration.

I get my hair cut at a barber’s shop that also sells seafood.   Oysters, specifically.  During the holiday season it does a roaring trade in hams, too; they’re piled into a shopping cart by the door.  No one seems to mind buying dinner from a place that can get ankle-deep in human hair.

Whatever about rims and phones, I’d definitely suspect an error if my search for [oysters] near [Leesburg, VA] returned Plaza & Tuffy’s Barber Shop as the top result.  But it’s the only place in Leesburg that advertises oysters on a sign:

 Fresh oysters at Tuffy’s

I shot this photo right before getting a haircut.  When I went inside, my barber Bobby asked why I had been taking pictures.  I told him I had a friend in Chicago who didn’t believe that a barber shop also sold seafood.

“We’re still country here,” he replied. “You tell him that.”

It got me to thinking: In reviewing YellowBot last year, I included a screengrab of something I portrayed as an error—YellowBot’s tags said that a hair-removal place here in Leesburg also sells bail bonds.

Perhaps I was too hasty in calling it a mistake?


  1. Local is a messy place, it’s this mess that makes it maddening and fun all the same. You are right your place with the oysters and hair cuts puts mine to shame. Thanks for sharing and in full disclosure I have now adopted your goofy place as my reference.

    Keep up the great work.

  2. A company I used to work for once made the dubious decision of outsourcing some fact-checking of local listings databases to India. One of my friends was responsible for reviewing all the things they’d flagged as possible errors.

    One of the things that was repeatedly flagged as an error: the listing of a Baskin Robbins franchise and a Dunkin Donuts franchise with the same address.

    Now, in the Northeast, at least, that sort of arrangement is incredibly common. But why would someone in India know that? It’s a tricky business you’re in — I wish you luck.

  3. Trying to improve local on Internet, as it would be a good help to everyone. Now a days as there are several business emerging, getting to know about a local would be difficult for even the same kind of local.

    Good care is to be taken to avoid misleads, at this start point.