Retailers are working to fill the void as the United States Postal Service cuts jobs and closes locations. It's a business model that began long before USPS got into money trouble.
Contract Postal Units, also known as CPOs, are located inside retail establishments and run by the retailer. One of its newest locations is at Phelps Hardware along Dixie Highway. Beyond the work gloves and caulking supplies lies a full service Post Office run by the store's owner, Barry Phelps.
"It's the wave of the future. The post office is cutting back," Phelps said.
When a local branch in Valley Station closed shop, Phelps worked to open a location in his store. "I knew what it'd do for the store. It'll bring 50 to 100 people in a day through here."
It's where neighbors like Donna Kruer have the option to drop off a package and pick up a light bulb.
"I like the idea that you can mail a package, look around and get what you need all in one store," Kruer said.
Phelps manages the drop-off site and keeps the packages and letters in a secure location until postal carriers take care of delivery.
"It's helped neighbors because we provided a service. Filled a need for them," Phelps said.
And now he's hoping to fill his store with unexpected customers.
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