Post Office financial state affecting locals

Caitlin Restelli

Twenty eight years ago, Rebecca Byler and her husband purchased a house in Brady Lake that was big enough to provide room for them and their five children, while also providing an income with a post office within the house.

“That was a good selling point because we needed a big house,” said Byler, self-employed owner of the U.S. Postal Service. “It was big enough, and it had the income, so it put food on our table.”

Since retiring in 2009, Byler said she enjoys still having the post office for work.

She said if her post office was chosen to shut down due to the recent post office financial state, she would be devastated. She also said many people have told her they hope her store does not close because of it’s convenient location.

David VanAllen, spokesperson for USPS, said the financial problems are mainly associated with the decrease of mail volume. People are not using the mail system as often due to options of advertising and paying bills online.

“The main problem with the situation is that people don’t mail like they used to,” VanAllen said. “Our bread and butter is First-Class Mail. That’s people mailing letters and bills for the mail. That — our bread and butter — is what significantly reduced.”

Jenny Arthur, The Works Inc. owner, said she has noticed the decrease in the amount of mail just over the past year. She said the quantity of mail she received a year ago in one day is equivalent to the total amount of mail she receives in one week today.

“It’s dwindled a lot and as far as how much I send out too,” Arthur said. “I used to send like two or three things out a day, and now I send like one or two a week.”

On September 15, USPS announced that nationwide changes would be made to help alleviate it’s financial debt.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a written statement that since 2006 USPS has closed 186 facilities. According to the statement, First-Class Mail has dropped 25 percent and single piece First-Class Mail — letters bearing postage stamps — has declined 36 percent as well.

Not only does the issue potentially affect many post offices, it also affects other businesses who work alongside USPS.

Proposes have been made which may change the amount of days post offices will be open.

Trudy Capel, owner and manager of Kent UPS store, said if USPS decides to cut Saturday mail, it would not affect her business because Saturdays are a low-volume mail day; however, if USPS drops to three-day-a-week, her store would feel the burden.

Capel compared the possible situation to that of a holiday weekend.

“When you even have a three day weekend, when you have that Monday off…because of a holiday, that Tuesday delivery is just huge and you’re just sorting mail forever and it’s late because the drivers — they’re all backed up too, so that really puts a strain on the system,” Capel said.

Within the past six months, USPS partnered with UPS in a new program called Every Door Direct Mail, Capel said. It helps businesses advertise though the mail without any kind of permit fees or mailing list. It runs at a cheaper rate while creating revenue for USPS and putting it back on the market.

“We’re trying to make it easier for customers to use the postal service for their marketing because mail is tangible, it’s measurable, it provides results,” said Michael Laughlin, USPS business solutions specialist. “We’re trying to make mail relevant again.”

UPS provides the printing and USPS provides the mailing for only a 14 cent postage stamp rate.

“In order to keep the postal trucks on the road, they’ve got to find ways, they’re reaching out, trying to find more creative ways to make revenue, to stay in business, so this is a great way for them to do that,” Capel said.

VanAllen said if USPS does not do anything, it will be dealing with the issue where its bills are higher than its income.

“We’re looking for new ways to service the American public any way we can, and (Every Door Direct Mail) is just one of the new initiatives that came out…so they can send advertising to their designed audience without the need to acquire an address list…speeds it up for them, brings revenue in for us — everybody wins.”