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Blog: Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles
NAPO Expo 2012 Recap (Part 1) -- Paper Lovers' Dreams Come True

Readers, I ask you to imagine the coolest shopping mall or bazaar you've ever encountered, but every product or service sold focuses on the wonders of organizing, and shopping hours are severely limited. Now imagine throngs of friends you haven't seen in at least a year, circling around you, mingling and hugging and talking at an ever-elevating pitch. Throw in some delicious (looking) appetizers, and you have Paper Doll's experience at the Expo portion of the NAPO 2012 Conference and Expo.

Torn between researching the magnificent products, visiting with friends and delighting in the delicacies, I feel I gave everything short shrift, but over the next couple of posts, I hope to share with you some of my favorites of this year's Expo -- the innovations, the updates and even a few novelties.

At a point in time when technology seems to be the Belle of the Ball, Paper Doll is pleased to note that a variety of paper organizing products shone as stars at NAPO 2012. Indeed, today, we can start with the Arc of the Expo!


In every NAPO 2012 attendee's conference bag this year, in addition to the itineraries and documents, was a lovely surprise -- a leather notebook with five sturdy, colorful, re-positionable poly tab dividers and a three-pad stack of 50 task pads.

M by Staples' Arc customizable notebook system is visually appealing. To be honest, having merely looked at the packaged product, Paper Doll didn't quite understand the hubbub at first. Apparently, Arc is designed as a more affordable version of Levenger's Circa, a high-end customizable notebook system. But I must say, Arc is plenty luxurious, without need for comparison, at affordable prices.

The intriguing aspect is how it's put together. At first, before the unwrapping, it seemed to be another take on a daily planner, like my Franklin Covey Classic -- a leather cover for a ringed notebook that holds a variety of pre-punched paper elements. Ah, how naive I was. Arc is actually much more like a Chinese menu, columns A, B and C from which you can pick a dizzying array of tasty options. To get an overview, check out the different demo videos of Arc personalities (Arlo, Alex, Reyna, Katie, Izzie and Emily).

The "spine" of the system is not, as it first appeared, the traditional metal ring. Rather, Arc employs solid plastic discs (though they're called rings) which fit into the grooves in the front and rear panels to form the exterior of the notebooks.

The paper pages and other inserts fit snugly around the unusually-shaped ring edges. The M by Staples Arc system rings come in two sizes, 1" and 1 1/2", both in a sturdy, shiny black, priced about $2 for a package of twelve, so you can expand the girth of your system like a tailor might let out a pair of trousers.

The Arc System covers come in two styles, leather (from $14.99) and poly (from $7.99). The leather versions come in velvety, traditional blacks and browns, as well as modern brights, like red, pink, blue and a chartreuse-ish green. Although the official web site lists the leather notebooks available in two sizes, 6 3/4" x 8 3/4" and 9 1/2" x 11 1/2", my own red notebook measures 8.5" x 5.5", so it seems the marketing is just slightly lagging the innovation.

The leather covers include a front leather pocket for holding envelopes, receipts or quickly-accessed pages, and have credit/ID/business card slots on the pocket front. The rear cover has a color-coordinated elastic-and-leather pen loop.

The durable poly versions come in solids (black, blue and green) and black-and-white patterns (flower, hibiscus and a mysteriously unnamed pattern), in two sizes, 6 3/4" x 8 3/4" and 9 3/4" x 11 31/4".

The Arc system is not just affordable and highly functional. It's also customizable, making it highly flexible for multiple professional, academic and personal uses. The system offers a wide array of options for re-positionable pop-in insert accessories for the letter and junior-sized platforms:

--Stacks of 50 premium heavyweight pages, including narrow ruled paper, graph-ruled paper, project planners (with space for titles and dates, project elements and summary comments) and To Do pages ($3), as well as an assortment of weekly/monthly page options

--Sturdy poly pocket dividers with pockets cut on the diagonal for easy access ($3)

--Poly tab dividers, in packs of five, in black or assorted colors (with labels) ($3)

--Sturdy sheets bearing 200 adhesive page flags in assorted colors ($3)

--Task pads ($4), similar to the sturdy Franklin Covey "Weekly Compass" pages.

Other accessories include rulers ($1), and business card holder pages ($9 for a package of five). Arc also manufactures special hole-punches ($40) for achieving that Arc-style punch, which looks to Paper Doll to be best described as a sideways umbrella or mushroom.

I would recommend checking out the Arc system (either online or at your local Staples) for anyone who prefers upscale appearances and flexibility without an upscale price.


Longtime readers of Paper Doll will recall that about a year and a half ago, we talked about mysteries in the office supply aisle and discussed some back-to-school items of note. At the time, I recalled the warring popularity of Trapper Keeper folders vs. the individual two-pocket types of my youth, and mentioned my fascination when colleagues Brandie Kajino and Krista Colvin informed me that folks in the Pacific Northwest (and elsewhere to my far left, geography-wise), referred to folders by a particular nickname: PeeChee.

Imagine my surprise when Krista Colvin greeted me at the NAPO Expo with the declaration that she had something for me, and she produced my very own, 100% official, PeeChee All Season Portfolio, manufactured by Mead...the very same people who created the Trapper Keeper!

My new PeeChee, seen here, for scale, with my Arc notebook.

Mead was in the NAPO Expo hall this year, showing off their newest wares, including the At-A-Glance WallMates flexible, re-positionable dry-erase boards that I reviewed back in February.

Paper Doll (having a bad hair day), pictured here with Mead's Ron Sopko

PeeChees weren't on display at the NAPO Expo, but I'm delighted to learn that PeeChees are still going strong. In fact, a quick perusal of Mead's web site finds that the Wild West (well, Wild West to this native Buffalonian) back-to-school staple isn't just peach-y, but is also blue-y, rose-y and green-y, now that Mead makes a Color-Talk line of PeeChee folders.


Speaking of folders, I had to mention (even though we're not nearly ready to talk about the big guns of the paper world) something nifty I saw at the Pendaflex booth. Below, Paper Doll's BFF -- financial organizing maven and Professional Daily Money Manager Nanette Duffey -- with Esselte/Pendaflex's Rick Drish, are showing off a new kind of folder.

"New, Paper Doll? What's new about it?" you might wonder.

"Oh, the color scheme?" you posit? Well, yes, I did think the idea of 1/3 cut file folders with a black exterior and white interior was nifty. Black and white is quite elegant, and for the fashionable set, turning the folder inside out provides double the artistry. Black with white interiors, or white with black interiors -- you pick!

But no, that's not what really got me going. You may (just barely) be able to see that the folder has a slight graininess, befitting recycled paper. And if you guessed that, you'd be getting warmer -- it is a variation on Pendaflex's multi-color 100% recycled file folders.

But what really gave me the giggles was the fact that these Black and White Recycled Folders aren't just recycled -- they're recycled from used lottery ticket paper! This earth-friendly, snazzy-looking folder is made from 100% recycled fiber and 40% post-consumer fiber, and is acid-free. It can be purchased in boxes of 50 from office supply retailers, and is part of Esselte's Pendaflex-Oxford-Ampad line of Earthwise products, of which we'll be discussing more, closer to Earth Day.

Readers, that's just a taste of what's to come as we continue to recap the delicious fascinations of the NAPO 2012 Expo! (Which gives you more than I got in the Expo hall, as I never did get to taste any of the supposedly delicious hors d'oeuvres, busy as I was, playing intrepid reporter. Appreciative comments left below, and crab cakes packed in dry ice and sent to Paper Doll headquarters, will be acceptable recompense.) See you next time!

posted on: 4/10/2012 10:30:00 AM by Julie Bestry
category: Paper

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Discuss This Post

by dava on 4/10/2012 11:03:55 AM:

Those Arc notebooks are really cool. I'd love to get each of my daughters one for organizing their college classes/schedules next year, except I hate the idea of needing a special (and expensive!) hole punch...Something to ponder, though. I think it would be really useful for a college student - provided she actually used it.

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 4/10/2012 11:44:48 AM:

Dava, since I know you in real life, I suggest you remind me to bring my Arc the next time we'll be meeting up, and you can check it out. For other non-Dava readers, I encourage going to Staples to examine the Arc up close. The hole punch's proprietary styling is an investment, for sure, but since there are poly pockets (not the formerly adorable Polly Pockets), the few handouts they get (in this digital age) may not need to be punched.

by Janine Adams on 4/11/2012 2:07:59 PM:

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and I was delighted to see the photo of the PeeChee! I used those all the time and don't think I've seen them in years. Thanks for taking me back!

by Julie McNeil (Organizement) on 4/11/2012 2:22:36 PM:

Hi Julie...we met last night at the NAPO-GA meeting. I was the other Julie without a real name tag ;-) This Arc system is totally calling my name! I need to get into Staples ASAP! Thanks for taking so many great pics...can't wait to see more!

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 4/11/2012 4:34:00 PM:

Janine, I'd been somewhat flummoxed when Krista and Brandie originally told me about the PeeChees -- I thought for sure they were playing a little prank on me until I did further research. However, it was especially fun to receive my very own!

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 4/11/2012 4:35:00 PM:

Julie (M) -- Be sure to check out the initial Arc page to which I linked. Depending on which colors you want, you might prefer to order online, as some colors (of the leather) are available in-store, while others are online-only.

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Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles

by Julie Bestry

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