What is in a name? Thomas’s has been called such, apostrophe and extra ‘s’ included, since the current owners’ grandfather decided this would have more marketing impact than the alternative of ‘Thomases’.
This was back in 1951, not long after the death of John Emlyn (“JE”) Thomas, founder of the store. JE immigrated from Wales in 1908 – from the town of Emlyn – and founded the JE Thomas department store in 1912 on the Market St side of the existing site. In 1939 he died suddenly from pneumonia and the store traded on as an estate.
“It was purely a marketing exercise. My father, a great student of English, was well aware the grammar wasn’t correct but he felt Thomas’s rather than Thomases would have a better impact. Looking back, I think that’s probably true,” says Michael Thomas – one of the previous owners who also worked in the store for over 50 years.
The current owners, Michael’s sons Tim and Hamish Thomas, took over this year buying out the previous generation of Thomases.
“As the great-grandsons of JE Thomas we’re really proud of the history of the store, and its connection to Blenheim and the Marlborough region. However, sometimes having an apostrophe in the name does pose a few issues – lots of people aren’t keen on apostrophes or don’t see the apostrophe and so spell it Thomass. But we want to honour that history, so Thomas’s it remains!” says Tim.
(Tim and Hamish – The Great-Grandsons of JE Thomas)