Photo: Aranami (Flickr)
The U.S. Postal Service has partnered with local businesses around the state as a part of its cost-cutting measures. Fourteen so-called Village Post Offices have been created in Indiana, with more expected to open in the coming months. But the managers of some of those post offices have not yet seen the increase in business they were hoping to get out of the partnership.
The Arlington General Store, in a small town southeast of Indianapolis, became a Village Post Office in July. In addition to selling its regular goods, it started selling stamps and collecting packages for the Postal Service. In return, manager Zach Davidson says he expected to get more foot traffic and more people buying his products.
“We were actually expecting them to close the post office shortly after we took over with the Village Post Office,” he says.
But USPS decided not to close the post office. Instead, it now plans to shrink the office’s hours so it will only be open four hours each day–something many post offices around the state are also doing. But the one in Arlington is still running on its normal business hours and is not expected to cut back until 2014. Davidson says that means his general store is not getting as much business as he would like.
“I do sell stamps now and we’ve had a few people come in when their closed to buy stamps or drop off packages, but other than that, until they actually decide to close this one, we’re kind of still in limbo,” he says.
USPS spokeswoman Mary Dando says it takes customers time to learn about the Village Post Office’s services, so she expects business will pick up, especially once the regular post office reduces its hours. She adds USPS wants the Village Post Offices to succeed just as much as their owners do.
“Really we want them to know we are there to support them in every way,” she says. “They are helping us expand the reach of the Postal Service. They are expanding our access.”
Dando says the partnership is based on a mutual contract, so it is in the USPS’s interest to help the Village Post Offices succeed.
Davidson says even though business is slow, he is still glad he agreed to the partnership. He says it is a community effort to keep the Postal Service alive and hopes he will see the economic benefits later.