Answering my own questions since 2001

317, What Does That Number Mean?

The other, I impetuously twittered “317, what does that number mean?” Ryan immediately replied on Twitter with “find out today, meet you at The Bay.” Filmgoerjuan added “maybe it’s a secret code…or a special combination…”.

To most people, the phrase means absolutely nothing. However, it ought to resonate with a lot of Vancouverites of a certain age. It’s part of a radio jingle that’s been in my head for, oh, about two decades now. It was for a style of jeans–probably from Levis, given the 3-digit name–sold at The Bay. There are a couple of pairs up for sale on eBay.

I was exchanging emails with Filmgoer (last name, Juan), and we decided that the ads must have appeared on LG73 in the mid to late eighties. After about 1989, I switched to listening to some AM classic rock station, so it probably preceded that.

Does anybody else remember this jingle (the Internet is no help)? Can you sing (and therefore transcribe) the whole thing? I’d appreciate it, as the lyrics might send the tune back down the memory hole, where it belongs.

6 Responses to “317, What Does That Number Mean?”

  1. Ryan Cousineau

    As far as I know, that one line was the entirety of the jingle’s lyrics. Given my radio habits at the time (NW98; I was a weird kid) it was likely a widespread radio campaign, and I’d bet on it being national.

    I remember it as being only a tagline at the end of the ad, though I’m sure it was hung on a rockin’ 80s guitar tune that ran under the whole spot.

    So yes, I can probably sing the whole tune (I can hear it in my head), but I’m so tone-deaf that the result may not actually resemble the original in anything but rhythm.

  2. Gar

    I believe that 317 was a “Boutique” shop at the Bay that catered exclusively to the needs of teens in the late seventies and early eighties. In those days, Levi’s were the only jeans to own ( GWG or LEE just would not do! ). The Bay had an aggressive marketing campaign for Levi’s at the time, and probably chose to name their boutique after them. I remember the 7 in 317 had a dash through it, probably to give it some euro style. I think this was just before the whole designer jean thing happened. Now I just prefer my 501’s with the button fly.

  3. John

    I’ve also had that jingle in my head for over 20 years. However, I always thought it was the number for the young men’s department as opposed to a type of jeans. Department stores will have codes for their different departments.

    Do you remember this one?: “Aren’t you glad there’s finally Boppers?”

    Boppers catered to young teenage girls with the Madonna look. Remember the lacy stuff (underwear on the outside)?

    Now I’m starting to think of Expo 86.

  4. John

    Oh. I should add…

    The thing about that 317 jingle is that at least in one version of it it sounded like Paul Hyde of the Payola$. I loved that band so much, and being from Vancouver, I thought there might be a chance that it actually was his voice.

    Pat Reply:

    John’s right. 317 was the code for the young men’s department, and the code was turned into a brand. If you looked on the back of your Bay receipt at the time, it listed all the range of codes for all the major departments from 0-999. 300-325 was junior fashion. Housewares and home furnishings were in the 700s and the odd departments, like fur storage, restaurants and financial services were in the 900s. For a time, I believed that anything bought from 317 was pretty, pretty cool.

  5. neil

    It was early to mid 80s, and it was definitely the Payola$! I could sing, play, and transcribe that puppy for you, no problem. Very catchy earworm, that.

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