What’s in a number?

Breadbox I don’t know if y’all know this, but thanks to our industrious group of Shopkeepers CafePress has – as far as we know – the largest online retail catalogue in existence.

Yep, it’s bigger than a breadbox fer sure.

As of today we had around 165,000,000 products for sale in the Marketplace catalogue (meaning there’s actually a lot more than that, what with private shops and all). 40,000 new products get added every day, which means that by the time you read this post in its entirety around 150 products will be added to the system.

Dane Thing is, 165,000,000 (and upwards) is a gargantuan, colossal and otherwise ginormously huge number. It’s of the “gozillion” caliber and is pretty hard to conceptualize. So today with the help of a mathlete-type engineer who enjoys these kinds of puzzles, I did some fun math to try to put that huge number into perspective. Here’s what we came up with:

  • If you laid all the products in our catalogue end-to-end, you’d go around the world 2.5 times.
  • If you laid all the t-shirts in our catalogue end-to-end, you’d go around the world twice.
  • Grand_canyon If you stacked all the products in our catalogue into a nice towering pile (that’s T-shirts laid flat and mugs standing up – we’re assuming the mugs don’t break; come on, humor us), you’d be able to bridge the Grand Canyon. Depending on where you bridged it would determine the width of your Merch Bridge.
  • GgateIf the desert’s not your thing, you could create a Merch Bridge that runs parallel to the Golden Gate Bridge that, from the water, sits at the height of the cars and is 5 lanes wide. (We might suggest building a dock first so the bridge doesn’t sink.)
  • New_york_2 New York City has 8 million people. We have almost 7 million mugs. This means that you could give every person in New York a one-of-a-kind cup of coffee – because kids shouldn’t drink coffee. Even New York kids.
  • Prius If you filled all those mugs with gas and then filled up a Prius, that Prius would run for 62 years straight. You could also drive that Prius to Venus (or maybe farther – we didn’t take into account that zero gravity would save enormously on gas), or you could drive the Prius around the earth 1000 times. Alternatively you could have 1000 people race a lap around the earth, if Toyota saw fit to make the Prius an aquatic vehicle (and if the gas mileage stayed around 50MPG as such).

Interesting political numbers:

  • Washington The number of anti-Bush stickers in the catalogue would cover the entire Washington Monument, with enough left over to wallpaper the Oval Office and the rest of the West Wing.
  • Worried about redecorating in November? No problem:
    • The Obama stickers in the catalogue can cover the Washington Monument, the Oval Office and still get a room or two in the West Wing. (And we still have some time to go until the election, so we may be able to add the rest of the West Wing eventually.)
    • The Hillary stickers almost cover the entire Monument – we’re a little short, but who can read anything at the top of that thing anyway?
    • The McCain stickers only get a third of the Monument, but there’s always posters

Now, even those numbers are pretty huge and hard to wrap one’s head around, so we came up with a couple easy daily figures:

  • Eiffel_tower The products added in a day would stack as high as the Eiffel Tower.
  • The products added in a day, laid out end-to-end, stretch 15 miles. So you could go from the Eiffel Tower to Versailles, and still have enough stuff left over to lay a path through the gardens.

So we learned a few interesting things in this exercise, and the most obvious is this:

You can’t compete with Mother Nature.

Niagra Sure, we can bridge the Grand Canyon with a pile of merchandise (er – I suppose that makes it a dam, on second thought) – but we’re nowhere near to filling it in. And just when we felt impressive about draining Raging Waters, we realized that pouring out all the water in those 7 million mugs account for a single second of water going over the crest of Niagra Falls.

But hey, keep checking back. As motivated as our Shopkeepers are, we won’t be at all surprised if – laying out our product collection – they lead us to beat China to the moon.

P.S. – If you want to come up with your own fancy math and interesting measurements, please do! Comment here or send to blog@cafepress.com. We’re especially interested as to whether anyone can figure out how large the catalogue in pile form – think dumping-out-the-duffel-bag pile – would be.

  1. I Love This Blog! Awesome numbers that are beyond my fingers and toes (how many people’s fingers and toes?)! To think that with that many gazillions of products and so many added each day, I am a small but important part of it all. I am awestruck, thanks CafePress for the opportunities, the truth is I couldn’t have done it on my own!

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