Monday, August 30, 2010

Add post offices to your adventure stops

Above, post offices in Lost Springs and Fort Dodge.

A post office is a big deal in a small town. A couple of years ago the New Albany post office was detroyed by wind. The federal post office decided they didn't do enough business in town to warrant a replacement office, so they "took away" their post office status. This means that when you write a letter to a citizen of New Albany, you no longer address it to New Albany but to Fredonia. Essentially, this one piece of evidence that they still exist as a city, is gone.

Other towns are losing their post offices because they don't have enough revenue for the feds to justify their existence any longer. It's a business deal for the "deciders" in Washington D.C. In other words, it's extremely important that we buy as many stamps in small town post offices as possible!

The Norway, Kansas post office stayed open until Belva retired. She felt the pressure and stayed on until she was 90-something. Then, Norway no longer had a post office.

The last post office that doubled as a residence closed about two years ago in Pfeifer. And, when Carol retired, that was it for the Pfeifer post office, too.

You know how some post offices have really screwy hours? It's because revenue determines the hours. Don't blame the clerk. Revenue also determines the salary of the employees, the number of employees, and the quality of equipment. If you go into some small post offices, they still have the manual scales. Most now have the digital scales but if you see a clerk going back and forth with that thing that slides to determine the exact weight, you'll know it's because they don't have enough revenue to earn the fancy scale.

Revenue and "points." A post office gets points for things like the number of box holders, the number of bulk rate permits purchased from that post office, and the amount of mail sent out through that office.

We have our Explorer newsletters printed in McPherson but then we go pick them up and mail them through our local Inman post office so they can have that bulk rate permit.

One year we had a BYOLC (Bring your own Lawn Chair) event in Stark, population 105. We asked the post office clerk what their best revenue day had been. The answer was $250. So, we asked Explorers to get in there and beat the record. We did! In the end, we purchased almost $500 worth of stamps. The clerk was more than thrilled.

I try to buy stamps in quantity. Awhile back we stopped in Hardtner and bought over $100 worth of stamps. The clerk just beamed and said that made her whole week look great.

Lots of times these clerks are a great source of community information. You can ask for directions, recommendations, hours at the local cafe, or maybe you're looking for a long lost relative. Be aware that these are busy people but they'll probably get a little friendlier if you make a nice purchase. Whether you just buy ten stamps or a hundred stamps, the extra sales mean alot to this small post office.

Norwich, population 540 in Kingman County, has a community-run post office. It's the first one like it in the state. The post office is located in the hardware store, which also doubles as the grocery store. The hardware store clerk might sell you paint as easily as sell you stamps.

Some of these small post offices have great nostalgic value. Some have the old-fashioned gold-plated boxes. Some have the old teller cage with a wooden frame. Twenty post offices have Section Art murals. Some are in tiny buildings. Where are your old-fashioned favorites?

People ask 500 or less, absolutely need your business. The smaller the city, the more they need you. A city of 1,000 needs your business, too, but even a few extra stamps can make a huge difference in a small town. I went to one very small post office one day and asked how her day had gone. She had only sold a two cent stamp that day (and had to lend the guy the two pennies).

Some of my favorites post offices to shop in are Denton, Lost Springs, Crestline, Effingham, Rock, Bison, Palmer, but the list is truly endless. Get out there and find adventure at small post offices!

Helping out with the revenue is one way to Get Kansas!

KE #2 Marci

1 comment:

Carl said...

I always make a point of buying stamps at small rural post offices. There's never a line there--unlike post offices in larger cities. Besides that, the clerks are usually friendlier and less harried.