‘SoMo’: A South St. nickname is born

“SoMo”—short for “south of the Monument”—is a new name for South Street’s burgeoning business district being pitched to early success by the local McCormack & Scanlan Real Estate office.

“As a lifelong JP resident, [South Street’s businesses] kind of faded into the background,” said Karen McCormack, the real estate firm’s co-owner. “SoMo” came out of “conversations about how we can bring more traffic down there.”

The name plays off New York City’s SoHo and the South End’s SoWa. It was brainstormed about three weeks ago by Michelle McCormack, Karen’s sister, who runs an Internet marketing business called LoveTheCool Strategy. They floated the name on Facebook (search “SoMo”) and got a good response.

“I’ve taken it a step further,” said Karen McCormack, who has met with local businesses about possibly doing collective marketing under the SoMo name and “really pump up this area.” She also created a SoMo website (http://www.wix.com/somojp/somojp).

South Street is home to many longtime businesses, such as the Fresh Hair salon and Ferris Wheels Bike Shop. But it has also seen a recent influx of new ventures, including the Hallway Gallery. McCormack & Scanlan joined the scene in recent years.

“SoMo” refers to South Street’s start at the Soldier’s Monument in Monument Square. McCormack noted that the Monument has always been a central JP spot. It’s also an easier place to invent a name around than the opposite end of South Street at Forest Hills T Station. That could have resulted in “north of Forest Hills”—or “NoFh,” McCormack joked.

“SoMo” extends from the Monument at least as far as the McCormack & Scanlan building at 68 South St., but may end up going much farther down the street to encompass such places as A Far Cry orchestra.

Promotion is the main goal, rather than forming a formal business association, McCormack said.

Real estate companies are notorious for inventing showy neighborhood names as house-marketing tactics, McCormack acknowledged. “I’ll go back to [business partner Colleen Scanlan] and say, ‘Have you heard this one?’” McCormack said of such trends.

But inventing a name for a business district is something new, and in this case probably won’t benefit McCormack & Scanlan directly because real estate is not much of a walk-in business. The idea, McCormack said, is simply to highlight an energetic street that is often overshadowed by the Centre Street strip.

Right now, the entire Centre and South streets artery is frequently combined in business district references, such as the local JP Centre/South Main Streets organization, which McCormack praised.

“When you say ‘Centre/South,’ it’s no wonder Centre comes first,” she said. “Centre’s so much larger. It’s big Centre and little South.”

But if “SoMo” sticks, little South may sound bigger.

Updated version: This article was updated to include the “SoMo” website.

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