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Notebook Worthy: That Curious Shaner Propane Mailer

SANATOGA PA – Recent jottings from a reporter’s notebook:

Better Late Than Never, They Probably Figure

Notebook Worthy: The Mysterious Shaner Propane MailerIt’s been about nine months (Oct. 17, 2011) since Amerigas Partners of Valley Forge announced it would pay $2.9 billion to buy 440 suppliers of propane fuel across the country, including Sanatoga’s venerable Shaner Propane, 3000 E. High St. That’s a lot of money, but don’t be surprised. About 5 percent of all American households reportedly use propane for heating alone, and it also powers stoves and hot water heaters. There’s big business in that gas.

Amerigas is headquartered just 18 or so miles east on U.S. Route 422, and is a subsidiary of UGI Corp. It bought up Shaner and all those other companies as part of a strategy to grow its business by 60 percent, or roughly a million customers. At the time, it said nothing about the acquisition to those customers themselves.

The word finally went out last week, and contained a curious footnote.

The company mailed a flier to clients announcing Shaner’s “significant milestone,” that it had become “part of the Amerigas Propane family.” It offered assurances that customer relationships were its “top priority,” said there would be “no disruption in … propane service as a result of this transition,” and that customers could expect to see “some of the same friendly faces” formerly employed by Shaner.

Here’s the curiosity. The propane service itself “will be based from” an Amerigas facility at 9 N. Bacton Hill Rd., Frazer PA, the company said. What it did not say (and what The Post is still attempting to find out) is whether that means the Shaner facility on East High Street will close, or remain open and serve as a adjunct distribution point. Stay tuned.

Amerigas also said it had updated its computer systems to include Shaner customers. In coming weeks they can expect to “receive a new Amerigas account number” along with more information about its services, including the ability to pay propane bills online. As a thank-you gift, the company offered a coupon for a $35 discount on customers’ next purchase of 100 or more gallons of fuel.

Another Opportunity, VanishedAnother Opportunity, Vanished

If you live in Spring City, and were hoping to sample the Memphis BBQ pulled pork sandwich at the Burger King franchise on East Bridge Street there, forget about it.

Its staff reports the meal was available for only a few weeks, was incredibly popular, and has already sold out. It won’t be back, if at all, until next summer.

It May Be Digital First, But Don’t Count Print Out

The Manhattan-based company that manages The (Pottstown PA) Mercury and dozens of newspapers like it across the country is called Digital First Media. The name reflects the strongly held belief by its chief executive officer, John Paton, that publishing online is the future of the news business. Who are we to disagree?

Notice, however, that The Mercury keeps printing its product daily. Paton’s not about to force readers into the habit of getting news online for free if they’d like to continue to pay for the privilege in print. Nor is he about to force advertisers from print to online; instead, he makes the case that merchants willingly pay to be seen in both places. Smarts like that got him the CEO job.

Which possibly means you should keep your eye on another up-and-coming news outlet, the area’s newest, known as “The Boyertown Bulletin.” Produced monthly in print, its 16-page August edition was just issued and can be picked up at more than 60 locations in Boyertown, Gilbertsville, Bally, Oley, Bechtelsville, Limerick and Pottstown. Yes, it also can be found online, at .

The print edition contains 13 feature stories about Boyertown area events and happenings (its cover story promotes next week’s Goschenhoppen Folk Festival) and advertising from 23 local merchants. The online edition offers those same stories, as well as an archive of articles from four earlier Bulletins.

At Goodwill in Phoenixville, while they last, 29 cents

Names familiar to area residents – Josh Brokaw, Jim Davidheiser, David Miller, Jennifer Hetrick, Stephanie Graber, Ashley Parish and Linda Boyer – are doing the by-lined reporting and writing. The Bulletin itself is a fictitious name owned by The Boyertown Company Inc., with a state-registered office address of 11 Senia Ln., Boyertown.

A New Opportunity Appears

At the Goodwill Industries store on Nutt Road in Phoenixville, they’re ready for back-to-school bargain hunters. The store has cases filled with classroom composition books selling for 29 cents apiece. Buyers get a choice of traditional black or snappy green covers, with each notebook containing 100 pages made of recycled material.

Editor’s note: Notebook Worthy is a series of occasional articles; find others like it, here.

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