Whether it's a letter from family or a treat-yo-self present ordered on a whim, opening up a new package is a pretty great feeling. And while the United States Postal Service has been under the microscope throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for its budget woes, it turns out middle-man postal centers, like Postal Connections in Bend, are doing well.
Drew Cogen, owner of Postal Connections, told the Source that numbers are up 25% from last year at this time. He anticipated there would be layoffs, but that wasn't the case.
"Right when the lockdown started, we thought it was going to slow way down," said Cogen. "So we cut our hours back. But then we were actually busier than we normally are. We were kind of hoping people would stay home but people kept coming in. They're still coming in."
Spending a lot of time in the house can get people stocking up on a variety of things that seem important.
"I think people are bored. They're just ordering stuff. Like, 'Oh, Susie would like that!'" says Cogen.
Postal Connections is also seeing an uptick in business through its partnership with Jax Hats. The company's knitted wares are always found in Postal Connections, but during the pandemic the two companies partnered up to make masks for people to buy or send to their loved ones. Anyone who was sending a mask or purchasing one for themselves could ship it and pay only the store's rate.
"I think it created a lot of good will in the community," Cogen said.
Losing: The Postal Service (not the band...but probably the band, too)
In a May 13 statement from the National Association of Letter Carriers, NALC President Fredric V. Rolando wrote, "the conversation about Postal Service finances is nothing new. Unfortunately, this pandemic continues to cripple the economy, resulting in sharp declines in letter mail volume for the Postal Service. It currently projects that it will exhaust its cash on hand by the end of September if Congress and the White House fail to intervene."
If local drivers or sorters get laid off due to federal cuts, and the centers aren't able to hire seasonal or temporary work, Cogen says local people will definitely see some deliveries slowed down, with the remaining people on staff handling a much larger workload. "We're just one store out of thousands like that. So if we're busier, then you have to imagine everyone else is busier."
Postal Connections will be relocating this June, but not far, moving just a couple of spaces down into the old laundromat by Sherwin Williams. Its owners hope to be open in the new space by June 15.