Everyone back then was illiterate, so the signs all just showed picture of what they sold: a horseshoe for a blacksmith, a basket for a basket shop, clothes for a clothes store. It makes the shopping experience a little like playing card games with a three year old, and who doesn't like that?
This morning six hundred years ago, I was shopping around and decided to take a break and grab some watered-down honey wine. I stopped at an inn called the Rose and Griffin.
Except it wasn't an inn at all. It was a roses and griffins store. There were long rows of fragrant roses, and huge cages filled with mythical lion-eagles.
"No, no, we're not an inn," said the shopkeeper with a laugh and a shrug, "but people assume that a lot. We get a lot of angry medieval would-be drunken would-be customers."
"Do they ever cause trouble?" I asked, noting that the roses were way too expensive for my shopping day.
The shopkeeper just chuckled, "Of course not. Nobody comes around to raise a ruckus. My store is full of monsters."
He takes credit cards. Anyone want to go in with me on a bulk discount order?