The Origin Of The Michigan Habit Of Adding An ‘S’ To Everything
When I was growing up, I would ask my Dad for two dollars to walk downtown to Penney's. A few years later I would borrow the car to drive to K-Mart's.
Why do Michigan residents have a tendency to add a possessive 'S' to everything?
When I returned to Michigan in 2014, my friend Craig reminded me that it's called 'Meijer', not 'Meijer's', to which I responded, "I know it's not correct, but I'll bet most everyone calls it Mejier's anyway." I was right.
Adding a possessive 'S' to places is not just a Michigan thing, either. University of Michigan English professor Ann Curzan tells MichiganRadio.com other states do it as well. Ohio, West Virginia, New York, and Missouri residents have a tendency to do it too.
Grand Rapids native Eric Weaver's wonderful site MichiganNative.com says the habit started back in the early days of the auto industry. People would often says they worked at 'Ford's Factory', rather than just for 'Ford'.
“JCPenney got that name in 1913, and I can find instances of ‘Penney’s’ back to the 1940s,” Curzan says, “so that possessive ‘s’ was happening early.”
It also tended to be used for things that were named after people. For instance, you may work at 'Ford's', but never at 'GM's'.
Later, many businesses followed their customers lead and actually put the possesive in their name (Trader Joe's, Wendy's) muddying the waters even more.