USPS Expanding VPO Network
Postal Service seeking more retailers for Village Post Office concept
WASHINGTON-- The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) said it is looking to expand its village post office (VPO) network and is inviting business owners--including convenience and gasoline retailers-- and community organizations to consider opening units. There are currently 294 VPOs nationwide.
VPOs are operated by community businesses to provide selected postal products and services, including stamps and Priority Mail Flat Rate packages and envelopes. These retail units may also provide Post Office Boxes either inside or outside the business.
The UCPS announced the concept of the Village Post Office in July 2011 as a way to continue providing convenient access to postal products and services in more rural communities across the nation after closing many post offices due to financial issues.
By being located inside established businesses and other places consumers already frequent, VPOs offer postal customers time-saving convenience, and in most cases, longer hours than regular post offices. They provide operators with opportunities for increased customer foot traffic and revenue, as well as providing additional services for their customers and clients.
The USPS will consider establishing a VPO in any location where there is no existing post office or where the post office has reduced operating hours.
Among the VPOs that have opened this year include many in c-stores and gas stations:
- Step Caver CITGO, Paragon, Ind., June 11. "I have been a part of this community for a long time, and when I saw that the Post Office had to reduce hours, I wanted to help my customers by providing added hours of postal service as well as convenience. When they come to my store to buy milk or bread, they can also pick up a book of stamps, get some flat-rate packages or drop off their mail with us. It's a good plan, and I'm hoping we'll see an increase in business as a result," said owner Gary Marker.
- North Salem Food Plaza, North Salem, Ind., May 15. "We're the only gas station and convenience store in town, and our customers often come into the store about three or four or five times a day. I wanted to provide a service for them, so they could pick up a book of stamps while they're here," said owner Jason Lalli.
- Handy Mart, Merrifiled, Ga., April 26.
- Susie Q's c-store, Monticello, Ga., April 25.
- Gratiot Fast Stop, Gratiot, Wis., April 6.
- Weatherheads c-store, Erving, Mass., March 13.
- Hub Plaza c-store and gas station, Boswell, Ind., Feb. 26. "I am open long hours, so I think it's going to be very convenient for customers to buy stamps and drop off their mail while shopping at my store. I think this partnership with the [USPS] will be good for me and good for the [USPS], as I hope to see an increase in business," said owner Harinder (Harry) Singh.
- Lotter's BP, Pickerel, Wis., Feb. 21.
- Marshall's One Stop c-store and gas station, Elkhart Lake, Wis., Feb. 21. "They're anxious for it to start. This is a win-win and will help us expand services to our customers and bring people to our store, manager Deb Koch said
- Lena Fast Stop, Lena, Wis., Feb. 20. "The hours at the local post office are shorter than ours, so this is just a courtesy for the customer. They may come in to buy stamps--that is the key to get them in the door, but they might also buy a soda and sandwich," said manager Bonnie Bader.
- Horne's General Store, Chappells, S.C., Feb. 7.
- Circle Food Mart, Clearwater, Fla., Jan. 16."I wanted to open the VPO to provide service to customers in Clearwater Beach. Customers are telling me that they love the convenience and the fact that the prices are the same as at the post office," said owner Greg Patel.
- Decatur Corner Mart, Decatur, Ohio, Jan. 2.