In a piece of software, what would I call a store that sells items to the public in real life as opposed to an online store (ie. a health-food store).

It will look like this:

  1. ____ Store
  2. Online Store

8 Answers 8


The fashionable phrase is brick and mortar business.

  • 6
    +1; This is exactly what I would call it. You don't strictly need "business" here, either. A brick and mortar store/building/etc all work.
    – MrHen
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 12:53
  • 1
    @dino: Something like "Brick and mortar office supply store" or "brick and mortar book store." The phrase would be "brick and mortar [topic] [store]." You can use "business" or "building" in place of "store": "I prefer shopping at brick and mortar businesses."
    – MrHen
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 12:57
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    I thought it was usually pluralised, i.e. "bricks and mortar store." 'Brick' is not usually a mass noun. Commented May 2, 2011 at 13:44
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    @DisgruntledGoat: It isn't always a mass noun, but it can be (e.g. "house made of brick"), and is here.
    – Kosmonaut
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 16:03
  • 6
    "Bricks and mortar" became common than "brick and mortar" some time ago according the Google N-gram Viewer but both are still popular. But keep in mind that this phrase has an older sense relating to property investment in contrast to less tangible forms of investment or speculation. Commented May 2, 2011 at 23:05

Physical store is a possibility.

Actually, I would just say "Online" (online store) and "Store" (real store).

  • Although both are "real".
    – PeteGO
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 19:52

These are sometimes called High Street stores in British English.

  • 4
    Or "High street shops", "shop" being more common than "store" for the things.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 11:37
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    @Colin, yep, I'd say "shop", but I wanted to emphasise the High St bit.
    – Deditos
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 20:38
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    This changes the meaning. Physical store could be a Wallmart, which most definitely is not High Street store.
    – vartec
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 14:31
  • @vartec: you're right on both points, but that doesn't affect how I've experienced the phrase being used in recent years. It's common in conversation, where familiarity can trump precision, but probably less relevant to the OP's software.
    – Deditos
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 20:22

You'll also see non-online outlets referred to as the following:

  • traditional retail stores
  • conventional retail stores
  • retail
  • local stores/shops
  • offline stores

Henry's answer is dead on but some stores have their own variations. The board game community calls their stores the FLGS for Friendly-Local-Gaming-Store.

  • @MrHen: If OP was working on software for a chain of stores specialising in board games, they'd have probably have told him in the project spec that they wanted to be called FLGS's. But then he wouldn't be able to re-sell the package to, say, music stores. Commented May 4, 2011 at 2:27
  • @Fumble: The takeaway is that some specialties have their own terms. Any any software package that hardcodes a term like that is designed incorrectly.
    – MrHen
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 2:49
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    @MrHen: Tell me about it. I wrote software for bus companies to analyse Route Revenue. Or Service Revenue as some would have it. Put it all in the User Config settings, and hope they don't specify something too long to display properly in your page design. Commented May 4, 2011 at 3:01
  • @MrHen: What about FumbleFingers' advice STOCKIST? Commented May 4, 2011 at 7:38
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    @dino: I have never heard the word STOCKIST and have no idea what it means.
    – MrHen
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 12:58

I assume you're asking because in your 'piece of software' you want to present these two store types so the user can pick one.

In which case you don't really want something 'quirky' like bricks-and-mortar, and things like traditional/conventional retail store would look a bit verbose.

But the user can see the alternatives, and he already knows what an Online Store is. Just call the other type Stockist. I'm sure it would be readily understood without being thought odd.

  • if you are right, that's exactly what i am looking for. Just let me know if you have any good example (I mean, i want to be sure to use this word STOCKIST). Commented May 4, 2011 at 7:24
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    I'd consider "Stockist" quirky, have read brick-and-mortar much more often than "Stockist". Commented May 4, 2011 at 10:56
  • My dictionary lists stockish as Brit. and my spellchecker doesn't think it is a word. The definition appears to be something that sells one type of goods and has no mention of a physical or non-physical store.
    – MrHen
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 17:44
  • @MrHen: Well obviously I must have been a bit parochial in suggesting it. I knew the word well enough, and thought it was primarily US anyway, so it just seemed like a suitable choice for a short word in this context. Apparently it's even more 'quirky' to US speakers than brick and mortar is to me. But it's impossible to argue against the number of upvotes that has. Commented May 4, 2011 at 18:58
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    @dino beytar: I use Google Instant, but I'm sure I've never included Stockist in a search term until a minute ago. Having typed wahl clippers sto, the four alternative completions were stopped working, stores, storm, and stockist. I'm now off to see what on earth wahl clippers storm is all about, but I think that's proof enough that some (UK, at least) people expect to buy things from stockists. Commented May 5, 2011 at 3:17

You can call them Physical Stores.

There is a nice usage example in the Brick and mortar business wikipedia article


I think 'Local store' is the simplest and best sounding way to phrase it.

  • unless it's not local.
    – PeteGO
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 19:52

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