Can something as simple, intuitive and universal as the paper clip or staple be improved? I’m not sure, but The Clip Store thinks so.
They sent me a whole bunch of their plastic inserters (they call them clippers) and “clam clip” inserts. They have a great feel, but I just can’t see why I wouldn’t stick with paper clips for a fraction of the price. A thousand medium size clam clips cost $65! An equal number of paper clips at Staples range from $2-$6. A deskset of clippers and clips start at $32.
Jesse Sharp, one of two partners that own the The Clip Store, says there are several differences and that their “elegant design” will appeal to engineers in particular. And why not? The other partner, Ryan Kosai, is a student in the University of Washington’s engineering department.
The technology was developed in Japan 20 years ago, but never caught on here, according to Sarah Byam who does marketing for The Clip Store. Kosai, a Japanese American, is trying to popularize the technology here. She cites reasons why an engineer would choose a “clam clip” over a paper clip or staple.
For example, the stainless steel clam clips can be used for “seed bags, spice bags, embroidery cloth, quilting, chips, snacks and freezer bags.” Paperclips are simply not that versatile. And they promise not to rust, bend or break. Also, clam clips hold tightly so the media won’t splay. And clam clip aesthetics enhance the seriousness and impact of a document. Indeed, they look nicer than a paperclip and companies can put their logo on them (ever try doing that with a paperclip?). Inserting a clip over a rustle of papers has a nice and solid tactile feel. If the price differential wasn’t so huge, these reasons would hold more water.
The other pitch is weak. Clam clips are meant to be recycled while paper clips are not. Fact is you can recycle both. Or you can throw away both. I concede that the clam clips should last longer and that they made of stainless might make me more reluctant to toss them in the trash.
The Clip Store might be aiming for the bleeding heart liberals. The clips are make from recycled steel and the clippers from recycled plastic. And a big tab on The Clip Store’s web site espouses social responsibility and “green” philosophy. Who can argue with that?
The folks the Clip Store promised that I would like them. And I do, but they will never be mass market until they massively decline in price. Maybe they should market them as the paperclip for the elite or rich. And to be honest: they seem a bit of a solution in search of a problem.