The ACL HOTEL MOTEL | A Continuous Lean.


Jan 7th, 2010 | Categories: Americana, Housekeeping, Random | by Michael Williams

A long awaited package arrived last week to my delight. The contents of which were a batch of customized promotional items that I have long loved — the diamond shaped motel key chain. A few companies still produce these things as cheap give-aways, but I managed to find a company in Wisconsin that still manufactures them for hotels / motels. I haven’t been to a motel with an actual key in like 20 years, so I’m not sure who is actually still using these things. All that aside I was happy to find them and quickly (some would say impulsively) had a batch of 500 made in ACL’s signature orange. It was funny, the form said “enter the room numbers that you would like to have made,” so apparently my hotel has 500 rooms!


When I was home for the holidays I unearthed a selection of promotional items from my father’s company “Better Industries,” which all feature an awesome caricature of my dad. These things have been floating around my house forever and I always loved that drawing. Note his “snapping” fingers and the feet. Amazing! I hope one day to have my own caricature.

If you see me out and about, give me a shout and I’ll give you an orange key chain. I plan on carrying a few of these at all times from now on. It will be funny to see if I end up with anyone’s keys…


UPDATE: If you are sending an envelope (SASE), send something with some guts! It seems the USPS machines have eaten some of the envelopes. Also, has that happened to anyone? Let me know!

Comments: 99

99 Comments to “The ACL HOTEL MOTEL”

  1. MW Keller
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 2:29 PM

    Alas, those of us not in New York lose out…

  2. Michael Williams
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 2:31 PM

    If you want to send me a self addressed stamped envelop I’ll mail you one (FREE; USA ONLY). Send to: ACL 110 Greene Street No 404 New York, NY 10012

  3. D in TX
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 2:32 PM

    am I missing something in the post…. whats the company name? Thanks.

  4. stephen
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 2:35 PM

    Funny I was at a old vintage hotel for new years and I got a key. I almost lost it when they handed to me. Nice work, if these come available for sale I would love to grab one.

  5. TA
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 2:36 PM

    Can I get one too? I would love to use it. :-)

  6. Christian
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 2:37 PM

    Very nice. I’m assuming your offer is open to all, so I’ll post you a SASE. Keep up the great work!

  7. Michael Williams
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 2:44 PM

    Yes, anyone. Come one, come all. My gift to you.

  8. D in TX
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 3:02 PM

    dropping them in the mail today! Thank you! still want the name of the company – might need some of my own… Thanks again, DinTX

  9. stephen
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 3:06 PM

    hows about I pop one in the mail with some stamps to pay for postage to Toronto Canada. Give the north some ACL love… I spread the ACL love up here..haha

  10. Gophers
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 3:07 PM

    Awesome! I’m sending you a SASE today!

  11. RHW
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 3:10 PM

    Ah! In the mail today…I covet the orange ACL key chain!

  12. Deb
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 3:12 PM

    Was up at Chena Hot Springs (north of Fairbanks, AK in the middle of fucking nowhere) over new years, and our motel had forest green ones. Love em.

  13. Jeremy Carter
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 3:13 PM

    Very cool.

  14. Jeremiah Simmons
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 3:15 PM

    Just mailed off the envelope… Can’t wait to represent ACL down here in FL.

  15. Nappyheadjenkins
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 3:15 PM

    Oh Dearest ACL

    I do love free things and I would consider stalking you…

    if i knew what you looked like

    but i think maybe not since I might have the urge to kick you in the nads for selling a fitted cap for 100 bucks…..

  16. Michael Williams
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 3:23 PM

    The $100 hat is priced that way to discourage people from buying them because they are a royal pain in the ass to make. They are coming off of / out of the shop very soon anyway.

    In regards to Canada (intl) shipping, I don’t think the USPS will take Canadian postage, so I don’t know how that would work. If you know differently please advise.

    USA only is designed to prevent me from setting foot inside a post office. Anything that requires that sort of pain will land your envelop in the circular file…

  17. Skip
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 3:36 PM


  18. ATrueGolfer
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 3:36 PM

    Love the creativity. The South should receive some “ACL”ness as well. Sending you an envelope when I arrive home.

  19. steven tatar
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 3:46 PM

    it appears that our Michael Williams is the son of a beatnik. Cool, daddio!

  20. doreen
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 4:02 PM

    Want a keychain. Live in London.

    But I have a trick up my sleeve, in the form of American stamps on my shelf. If I have enough of them, I can send you a SASE with enough Yankee postage to cover costs, no post office visit required.

    Everybody wins!

  21. doreen
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 4:06 PM

    Oh, crap, unless you have to fill out a customs form for sending even a keychain. My great plan may be unravelling.

  22. kim
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 4:10 PM

    i’m sending my SASE too….thanks so much!

  23. kiosk
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 4:22 PM

    hi, did we pass the company information onto you?
    Looks nice!

  24. Brooks
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 4:29 PM

    Awesome – sending one from South Carolina. I’ve been rocking a key chain from the San Jose Hotel in Austin for years. Always a conversation starter.

  25. Geoff
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 4:34 PM

    Dropped my SASE in the mail too. Thanks!

  26. Dennis Cahlo
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 4:59 PM

    Oh man…I totally want one. I have to find an excuse to get my ass to Soho and stalk around your offices.

  27. Chris
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 5:28 PM

    Because I am not from New York, and I wish I was, I checked out Google Street View of your address. That is a good looking street – DWR, LV, cobblestones.

  28. t.e.m
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 6:45 PM

    First: Want

    Second: My fave hotel in Austin, the Hotel San Jose, still uses keys.

  29. Preppy 101
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 6:59 PM

    Best idea I have seen in forever!!

  30. B.R.Judge
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 7:28 PM

    sending a SASE like so many others. the keychain is just wonderful, so full of vintage americana.

    what might the odds be of requesting a specific “room” number? I would very much like #72 if possible.

    I will put this request in the SASE as well.

  31. noah
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 7:51 PM

    so sweet

  32. B.deR.W.
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 8:46 PM

    Michael don’t give them all away! My S.A.S.E. will be in the post tomorrow morning!

  33. Cisco
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 9:24 PM

    The next time you’re in the SF Bay Area for a while, stay at the Cardinal Hotel in Palo Alto for a night. Cheap prices, decorated the same way it was in the 1920s, and they use real keys. Also check out the Stanford Theatre a block away. It’s been restored to its 1920s condition and only plays classic movies.

  34. CE
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 9:31 PM

    I’m dropping my sase in the mail tomorrow…hopefully this winter storm doesn’t slow it down.

  35. Bogdan
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 9:39 PM

    My SASE is in the mail. Can’t find any places that have these in Philadelphia!

  36. Noah
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 9:39 PM

    These are great! Sending mine from MS

  37. Christopher
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 10:06 PM

    There are plenty of motels still using keys, they’re just usually not places people who don’t want to get eaten up by bed bugs stay at.

    There seems to be a theme here, because much like Deb, when I was in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, I stayed in a motel using keys as well. Slept with one eye open and was glad the locals didn’t pull a “Nothing but Trouble” on me.

  38. jacobb
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 11:17 PM

    What was your pop’s business? The schwag is intense.

  39. Alex
    on Jan 7th, 2010
    @ 11:27 PM

    That’s my birthday ! April 27th ! Hilarious

  40. Andrea
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 12:49 AM

    Oh my goodness! I didn’t think this was something I was missing until now. That orange color just makes my day.

    Now. Stamps. I sort of remember those from back in the last century.

  41. Maria
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 3:26 AM

    I´d be honored having one of those for my home (just in your same street… but in Spain). Great creativity!

  42. DJ Sazon
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 8:02 AM

    Michael, how did you know orange was my fave color? This is great! Sending a SASE today!

  43. Chris
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 8:31 AM

    The keychain is a must have (though possibly not as great as your Dad’s “Better Industries” caricature). Classic!

  44. yuko
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 9:38 AM

    nice!! i will send a SASE, even though i am in nyc… seems a bit creepy to stalk you for a keychain.

    is a regular envelope going to work in this situation?

  45. Michael Williams
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 10:01 AM

    I think a regular envelope will do the trick.

  46. Ali Bagshaw
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 10:07 AM

    Please add these to your shop. Love them… but am in the UK!

    All the best.

  47. Teal
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 10:30 AM

    Those key chains bring back memories of vacations with my family as a child. Always stayed in cheap (crappy) motels. Nice little promo. Especially for us old guys.

    Enjoy your site. Keep it up.

  48. Atif
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 12:44 PM

    okay, expect an envelope from me next week. The concept is really cool!

  49. Russell Sprouts
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 12:48 PM

    These are way too expensive.

  50. Chris Bryer
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 12:50 PM

    Hey Michael: I hope you are doing well. If you see Brian A. would you please give him one for me? Thanks a lot andf Happy New Year!


  51. SteveK
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 2:35 PM

    Sorry if i missed this detail, but where did you get these? i’d love to know who the supplier is, for future reference.

  52. Mike
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 2:37 PM

    these are cool. I had a room with one on the Jersey Shore last summer and was trying to remember the last time I had seen one.

  53. Brian Miller
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 3:52 PM

    Rad. Just flat out rad. Makes me regret not stealing more of these back in the day. I’ve got to find out where you got these made.

  54. robbie
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 4:02 PM

    I am sure the keychains are already gone, and what the heck would I do with one in Omaha.

    All that being said, thanks for your address I need as many penpals as I can get. And who knows maybe gifts and letters are in your future Mister Williams?!


  55. Marcus Silva
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 7:50 PM

    Hi, I put my envelope in the mail today( I hope I’m not too late) I feel weird asking you this since your giving these out for free,but if I am one of the lucky ones to get a key chain could I request 179 ? that was my old Boy Scout troop number.
    Thanks For your time and free gift.

  56. michaelTRAV3RS
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 8:39 PM

    These are fantastic. Too bad I am in Canada.
    However, I am also curious who the supplier is?
    (I am just a design geek who is continuously building an outsourcing list and this is a must have.)

  57. Juan Mas
    on Jan 8th, 2010
    @ 11:52 PM

    Hey Michael – Great idea…I used to be at 110 Green St….slow elevator, good memories!
    Juan Mas

  58. TA
    on Jan 9th, 2010
    @ 12:58 AM

    Hi, Michael

    Thank you so much for the key chain! it’s so lovely. Also, it’s so nice to meet you in person.


  59. nivaldo de lima
    on Jan 9th, 2010
    @ 6:15 PM

    How about you send us one of your keyrings and we’ll send you one of ours?

  60. letterpreston
    on Jan 10th, 2010
    @ 12:42 AM

    Room for one please.

  61. Godzilla
    on Jan 10th, 2010
    @ 3:36 PM

    I stayed at a motle in Downieville CA a couple of months ago that was still using metal keys and key fobs like yours.
    I really thought it was cool. They aso had tongue and groove pine panelling and a riverfront porch in ever room.

  62. SteveK
    on Jan 11th, 2010
    @ 3:55 PM

    The Sylvia Hotel in Vancouver has a similar fob for some of its older rooms – except their is leather wrapped around a metal core. Heavy, but nice. I completely should have stolen it.

  63. Alex M
    on Jan 11th, 2010
    @ 8:38 PM

    my SASE is on the way i love these and orange is one of my favorite colors. it was almost made for my keys

  64. matt
    on Jan 12th, 2010
    @ 6:09 PM

    i just found your website and this posting. and now i really need to have one of these orange motel key chains. please… how much is it? and can you send it to germany? please…

  65. Ryan
    on Jan 12th, 2010
    @ 9:16 PM

    Michael, if I’m in nyc do i still need to send a SASE?

  66. Lawrence
    on Jan 14th, 2010
    @ 10:58 AM

    Got mine today… awesome. Thanks!

  67. Dan
    on Jan 14th, 2010
    @ 1:14 PM

    Got mine today, cheers Michael!

  68. Michael Williams
    on Jan 14th, 2010
    @ 6:36 PM


    If you are sending an envelop, send something fairly solid. I have had a few reports of the envelopes arriving back without the keychain. -ACL

  69. Bogdan
    on Jan 14th, 2010
    @ 11:27 PM

    Got mine safe and sound. It was a little roughed up but nothing happened to it.

  70. Tommy
    on Jan 15th, 2010
    @ 8:55 AM

    Got my ACL key chain last night. Very, very cool. Thanks again Michael!!!!!!

  71. Donald
    on Jan 15th, 2010
    @ 2:20 PM

    I received my return addressed stamped envelope today! Sadly, someone at the Post Office wanted the key chain more than I did so they ripped off a corner of the envelope and slid it out. Thanks anyway Michael!

  72. CE
    on Jan 15th, 2010
    @ 3:38 PM

    I also recieved my envelope with a sticker saying “recieved without contents” damn post office. :( I guess I will try and send another one. Thanks anyways for now.

  73. Marcus Silva
    on Jan 15th, 2010
    @ 7:00 PM

    Just received my envelope today,same situation, torn corner on envelope.

    Thanks for looking out and trying to send me a keychain.Marcus

  74. Brendan
    on Jan 15th, 2010
    @ 11:13 PM

    As a recipient of a damaged envelope, I suspect, sadly, it is the level of automation involved in the U.S. Postal Service rather than ineptitude or delinquency on the part of U.S.P.S. employees.

    I would wager the thickness and rigidity of the plastic keychains does not mix well with automated letter slots and sorting machines and the relative weakness of a run-of-the-mill No. 10 envelope.

    That being said, the entire premise of these keychains means (hopefully) Mr. Williams should be receiving all those “lost” in the mail sooner or later!

  75. eric
    on Jan 17th, 2010
    @ 2:02 AM

    just received my #357.
    thank you!

  76. Kevin
    on Jan 17th, 2010
    @ 7:29 PM

    #93 arrived safely in San Francisco and has been a big hit. Thanks for coming up with such a great idea – having them done in orange is the icing on the cake!

  77. Ryan Hunter
    on Jan 18th, 2010
    @ 2:35 AM

    What a very novel idea! If I were to send a SASE, would you you open to sending one of these fob’s to Ann Arbor?

  78. JLee
    on Jan 18th, 2010
    @ 5:28 PM

    #80. Thanks! Got mine, with it barely hanging on. Torn corner and some tape around the whole thing, and it peaking out. Still made it out to California.

  79. Luke
    on Jan 18th, 2010
    @ 10:27 PM

    Keychain #352 arrived safe and sound (no packaging/envelope mishaps) in Charlottesville, VA today. Looks great and sounds great too rattling around on the keychain, very nostalgic. Orange coordinates very well with UVA color scheme too! Another thumbs up on a great PR move and a fabulous website.

  80. Ryan
    on Jan 19th, 2010
    @ 11:44 AM

    Who did you guys use to make these? They’re great!

  81. James
    on Jan 19th, 2010
    @ 10:57 PM

    Recieved mine, #233 last Thursday.

    Thanks Michael!

  82. B.deR.West
    on Jan 19th, 2010
    @ 11:21 PM

    Mr Williams,

    I have received my keychain, No. 474, today in the post.

    Thank you once again for doing this pro bono, as it were. Keep up the wonderful posts!

  83. Noah
    on Jan 19th, 2010
    @ 11:37 PM

    I was slightly disappointed to see that my envelope returned with rips and tears, something must have gone wrong with in the delivery…

    If there are any more left, please let me know so i can send in another envelope. Thank you very much!

  84. brock
    on Jan 20th, 2010
    @ 12:40 AM

    Arrived earlier today. Again, thank you so much for putting this out there and know that I am more than happy to rep your site.

  85. Jom
    on Jan 20th, 2010
    @ 9:27 AM

    Just got Room 367 in the mail. Thanks a ton! Now, if I could just send you an envelope roughly the size of those Mark McNairy brogues…

  86. RHW
    on Jan 20th, 2010
    @ 11:24 AM

    Drat! Just received my SASE and the room key is gone…it’s imprint is visible on the envelope still. Paper must have torn and the room key fell out somewhere on the journey. Thanks USPS!!! sucks… Got any more?

  87. Michael Walters
    on Jan 20th, 2010
    @ 5:02 PM

    Just received #242. Thank you!

    USPS kindly put my torn SASE in another (clear windowed, First Class) envelope.

    What a fun project. Now I will be scanning peoples keychains, wherever I go, to see if they’re in the “Club”. ;)

  88. Michael R.
    on Jan 21st, 2010
    @ 5:36 PM

    Hi Michael,

    I just got mine in the mail today! The Cartier one my grandmother gave me twenty years ago as a birthday present will be in the jewelry box now as I’m now proudly toting #500.



  89. Jennifer Perkins
    on Jan 21st, 2010
    @ 10:14 PM

    Dude if I’m not too late I’m totally sending my SASE, I use old fobs to make necklaces. You can see a pic below, yours will make a doozie.

    P.S. I love your dad’s logo.

  90. CE
    on Jan 23rd, 2010
    @ 9:32 PM

    Just received mine today on my second try. #495. Thanks again. I hope you enjoy those vintage American flag stickers I sent you.


  91. Chris Sewell
    on Jan 24th, 2010
    @ 12:29 PM

    We like to keep it retro round’ these parts. You will most delighted to know the Presidio Motel in Santa Barbara,Ca. still uses these !!!!! Come see us soon !!

  92. DinTX
    on Jan 26th, 2010
    @ 5:21 PM

    @#$% US MAIL! got my envelope with the end ripped off and a stamp saying – Damaged by USPostal Service – DUH!!! Thanks for the effort and the offer though! DinTX

  93. Michael Williams
    on Jan 27th, 2010
    @ 9:28 AM

    Sorry to hear people are having trouble. We still have keychains left — so if you want one send me a SASE. A small padded envelope works best, the ones with the bubble wrap lining. Send the smallest one you can find. Regular envelopes don’t work well (as noted above).

  94. JB
    on Jan 27th, 2010
    @ 2:24 PM

    Got mine a few weeks back. Room 394. Thank you!

    My envelope arrived ripped, so the naturally curious wife looked inside to see what it was.

    I got home and didn’t know this. I get the envelope, look at the rip, look inside and see nothing! GASP!

    I yell to the wife! She comes over and says “what is this (holding the key chain)? Are you having an affair or something? Is this your girlfriend’s way of telling me you guys are meeting at this hotel?”

    Couldn’t help but laugh at that one.

  95. Michael Williams
    on Jan 28th, 2010
    @ 2:00 PM

    I received eight lost keychains today (that fell out of ripped envelopes) postage due! Ha $5.31 owed. Send a padded envelope!

  96. GD Singh
    on Jan 28th, 2010
    @ 3:25 PM

    Do you still have any more?

  97. Michael Williams
    on Jan 28th, 2010
    @ 3:29 PM

    Yes. I’ll let you guys know when they are all gone.

  98. LAF
    on Jan 31st, 2010
    @ 10:42 AM

    Mine never arrived, only the envelope, with the end torn off. Save another as I will send a stronger envelope.

  99. Rhys
    on Feb 9th, 2010
    @ 1:32 AM

    Hey Michael,

    Any chance of getting one down here in Australia? I could include one of these ( or try and purchase american stamps down here?