Zip A Dee Doo Dah

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Yes, we know you probably sang that title. Perhaps even out loud. We did, too.

While we never tire of reminding you that we’re pretty zippy about getting your ads posted online, there’s another feature we offer on our website: you can find the closest spot to buy a physical copy of Paper Shop. It’s quick and easy: just pop in here, enter your zip code, and find vendors in your area.

Since we seem to be on a geography kick, here’s something you might not know: zip codes, introduced in 1963, have a very definite format to indicate exactly where a piece of mail is destined to go. The first digit tells us to which state the item is headed – Pennsylvania zip codes start with numbers 150-196. The second and third numbers stand for the sorting facility that needs to handle the mail. And while those last four digits (the ones after the hyphen) aren’t generally mandatory, they indicate more specific information about the delivery route and destination.

As we’re zipping through Postal Codes 101, it’s kind of cool to know that the ZIP in zip code is an acronym for “Zone Improvement Plan” and was chosen to indicate the speed at which the mail would be delivered with those codes.

Fooling Around

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We considered some kind of really fun prank for April Fool’s Day. Perhaps news that we were going to start printing our weekly issues on scrolls. Or a story about how our new website will offer an app to diffuse new car smell as you browse our Auto category. In the end, however, we decided against it; while we like to have some fun here and on Twitter and Facebook, we do take your ads very seriously.

There’s also the chance that people will take us at our word, too. It may sound far-fetched, but it has happened before. In 1957, England’s BBC ran a current affairs report that did exactly that. A three-minute segment showed a Swiss family collecting a bumper crop of pasta, and the report resulted in hundreds of calls to the network requesting tips on how to grow spaghetti in the home garden. Amused reps from the BBC reportedly suggested would-be gardeners give it a shot by placing a “sprig” of spaghetti in a can of tomato sauce. You can check out the original segment here, though it could be said that the folks in the video are impastas (Sorry. We couldn’t resist).

Noodle jokes aside, we hope it’s been a day full of fun and surprises for you. And don’t forget to download our New Car Smell app!

 

TGIPD*

Pi

*Thank God it’s Pi Day!

If you happen to be either a stickler for math or a circle (or maybe both), you’re probably enjoying a day dedicated to everyone’s favorite irrational number.

If you’re not a math-y kinda person, we’re perfectly happy to provide a pi primer! If you’re like us,  you’re probably seeing a number of jokes about irrational numbers in your Facebook feed. Although it sounds, well, irrational, there’s a pretty simple definition: an irrational number is a number whose digits go on forever in a seemingly random sequence. Pi is the result of dividing 22 by 7 (22/7), and if you do the math you’ll find a number that exceeds the space on your calculator (or even your sheet of scratch paper): 3.1415926535 … and on. And on. And on, all without any discernible pattern to those numbers.

Why is it Pi Day? Well, if you take the commonly used form of that irrational number, it’s 3.14, which corresponds neatly to today’s date: March 14 or 3.14. And while it’s pretty nice that Pi Day falls on a Friday this year, we think next year’s celebration will be pretty epic, as the date will take it to the next level by reading as 3.1415.

Some People Spell Trouble …

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… and others? Well, let’s just say that they’re a little shaky on the letter placement.

We can’t all be spelling champs, and that’s perfectly okay. In fact, if spelling’s not your strong suit, nobody even has to know. We’ll keep your secret.

It’s our job to make sure your ad looks and sounds as good as it possibly can, and that’s a responsibility we take pretty seriously. When you submit an ad on our website, we take the time to proof that ad and make sure that every detail is in place. If something’s misspelled, we fix it. If an uploaded photo is upside-down or sideways, we get it pointing in the right direction. We’re sticklers for detail, so it’s our pleasure to do these things.

Even so, everyone’s got a word or two that just stymies them. It just looks wrong, no matter what. For me? That word is ceiling. I have to check and re-check to confirm that I’ve got it right; even then, I always publish it with a bit of trepidation. An informal office poll reveals that the words shepherd, removable and tonneau tend to want to trip us up. We catch ourselves, but there’s always that hesitation when we’re using them. Because of this, we understand that the spelling of things can feel a little intimidating sometimes.

We just wanted to take a moment to reassure you:  if you tend to speel words incorecttly (or even if you’re just unsure), we’ve got you covered.

Day of Mystery

Hitchcock

In the most celebratory sense, of course: March 12th is Alfred Hitchcock Day.

While we’re fans of mystery and suspense, we know that both are lots more fun in movies than in real life. And that’s why we do our best to help when you’re puzzled by something.

If you’re feeling mystified by any aspect of Paper Shop, we invite you to check out the FAQ’s on our website (or even here on this blog). You’re more than welcome to contact us with any questions or difficulties you may encounter. Or you can use social media to get an answer: tweet us or message us on Facebook.

We’re here to help, and no question is too big or small.

Ah-one. And Ah-two …

Lawrence Welk bubbles

If you’re like some of us here of a certain age *ahem*, you may have spent the ’80s wanting your MTV. And if it hadn’t been for folks like Lawrence Welk, you may never have gotten it.

Yep. It’s true. Although we tend to think of music videos as a rather modern innovation, the idea of a 3-minute musical film is far from new. In fact, such a thing was quite popular in the 1940’s: they were called “Soundies” and were shown in a sort of movie jukebox known as a Panoram. Those soundies featured plenty of Big Band favorites, and one of those favorites was Mr. Welk himself, who was born on this day in 1903 in North Dakota (that’s our cue to fire up the bubble machines, right?).

As a very young man, Lawrence Welk decided that he wanted to make music for a living. And to get his start, he persuaded his father to finance a mail-order accordion with the agreement that Lawrence would work off the cost of it on the family farm until the age of 21. Which he did. And with that accordion, Lawrence moved on to the music world.

If you’re feeling the need to get musical and you’re sorely missing the chance to farm your way to an instrument, we highly recommend checking out our Musical Instruments category. You’ll find instruments of all sorts, including strings, brass, percussion … and even the occasional accordion for when you’re feeling like getting your Welk on.

FAQ: Free to advertise? How do you stay in business?!

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Questions. We love ‘em. When somebody has a question for us here at Paper Shop, we know that they’re either already advertising with us or thinking of giving us a try. We’re happy to help with and all inquiries, and we’ve found that a number of them are, well, frequently asked questions. Here’s where we take some time to talk about them.

This is it. The Big Kahuna. The FAQ-iest of FAQ’s. It’s a question the we must get asked a hundred times a day. And it’s actually a pretty good one, and one that we’re happy to answer.

As you probably already know, we’ve been doing the local advertising thing for nearly 50 years. We’ve adapted to a rapidly growing audience,  to the major shifts in economy that happen over a few decades, and to the growth of the internet as an advertising medium. And when we took some time to think about it, we felt that the best way to make sure we’re around for another 50 years is by changing the way we do business.

We decided to concentrate our efforts on building a far larger community of advertisers, since when more folks are advertising with us it means more folks are reading us. And if we’ve got more attention for every ad, that will translate into more sales for the people advertising.  With that in mind, we’ve decided to go totally free.

We would like to sincerely thank the many people who have expressed concern that we might not be around. No worries – we will. And we plan to be your free local advertising source for the next 50 years!

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

NASCAR

And on this day in 1936, that’s exactly what they did. The first oval stock car race was held on what was then known as the Daytona Beach Road Course. It was a big deal for several reasons. First? Well, Daytona – enough said. But even more importantly, that course had a great deal to do with that nifty organization we now call NASCAR.

As you might imagine, the speedway of 1936 bore little resemblance to the one we enjoy today. In fact, the term “road course” was even a bit of a stretch, as the original speedway included about 2 miles of the beach itself. Yes, you read that right: the participants raced on a sandy surface for nearly half the length of the track.

City officials from Daytona Beach had hired promoters to organize that first race, but between driver squabbles about the race itself and the fact that the race was stopped after 75 of 78 laps, it was a losing proposition. The event was a failure, as was a similar event held in 1937. A race participant and organizer, William France Sr., took over running the track in 1938 – a year which included two races, both turning a profit. France continued to run the track until 1942, when WWII put a temporary halt to most racing activity.

As a racer and organizer, France realized the need to get the promoters all on the same page, and in December of 1947, he want into talks to form the racing organization we now call NASCAR.

Whether you’re a fan of the big guys or you’re  someone who’s just getting started in racing of any kind, we’re here to keep you up to speed. A number of the NASCAR greats appear in our Sports Collectibles category, and our Automotive category is a treasure trove of cars, parts and trailers. Even better, we log some pretty impressive track speeds, too: we get your ad online within minutes!

Ahoy!

Phone

We had to say it. Had to. And there’s probably no better day to do so than on the 138th anniversary of Alexander Graham Bell receiving a patent for a nifty little invention he chose to call the telephone.

While Bell’s catchy name for the device stuck, his recommended greeting when using the newfangled apparatus didn’t fare nearly as well. Some early users answered their telephones with a hearty “Ahoy!”, but it didn’t really stick for long. By the turn of the century, most folks used “Hello?”,  a greeting suggested by Thomas Edison. Interestingly, there are still a few references to that “ahoy” in pop culture; most interestingly on The Simpsons, where Montgomery Burns answers his phone with an old-timey “Ahoy-hoy!”

We’ve got a soft spot for that seafaring salutation, but we won’t be adopting it in our office anytime soon. So when you call with questions or help (which we encourage you to do), we’ll answer with our first names so that you’ll know who you’re speaking with. Bear in mind, however, that you’re perfectly welcome to hit us with a cheery “Ahoy!” – it would probably make our day.

@ Your Service

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Ever the optimists, we’re looking for that first robin of spring. Sure, he hasn’t turned up yet, but we’re keeping our eyes peeled all the same. And in the meantime, we’re spending some time with his hardier blue cousin: a little bird we call Twitter.

It’s estimated that around 500 million tweets are sent out every day. 500 million! While we enjoy getting in the mix and having fun with those 140 characters, that’s a pretty impressive number.

If you’re a Twitter user, follow us! And please feel free to tweet us your thoughts, ideas and suggestions. We don’t use an anonymous service to churn out tweets; rather, we’ve got a long-time Paper Shop employee monitoring the Twitter switchboard, and we’re happy to chat with you whenever you like.