Wednesday, May 22, 2013

CPU Adventures, II: Charleston, SC

There are several genres of stores that frequently host Contract Postal Units (CPUs): pharmacies, self-storage facilities, and hardware stores come to mind. How about tax service stores? During April you can finish up your taxes and Certify your returns all in one location. During the rest of the year the CPU builds relationships and keeps foot traffic coming through the door.

One couple owning a handful of franchise of Liberty Tax Services operations in Charleston has turned this marriage into an art form. You've seen folks hawking $5 pizza specials on street corners waving their arrow signs; how about a sign for a post office that's open during Federal holidays? The author didn't witness that live, but these folks have done it, and are very devoted to their CPUs. They've even got their Google Maps bases covered when it comes to being listed as a post office; many operators do not implement their business listings correctly.

The three operations in question are named, postally, by the shopping plazas that house the stores: the Festival Center CPU; North Pointe Plaza CPU; and Orange Grove Plaza CPU. Two of the operations are north of Charleston proper, while one lies in the west side of town. Here's a map of the operations:

Liberty Tax Service CPUs; Charleston, SC:
Liberty Tax CPU map, Charleston

Outside, each of the three operation is identifiable as a CPU by one or two "United States Post Office // Contract Unit" signs. Inside, the CPU operations, collection box, and associated signage are beautifully implemented within the store. The new-style wood-grain CARS computer unit counter is inviting, and the Postal Service's new horizontal 'slatted' design presents all your box options in the back. A similar counter on which one can fill out forms is located to the side. These operations were implemented with the utmost care.

Kay Hastings, co-owner, told me "Our goal is that it takes you longer to park than it takes you to get in and out."

Here's the interior of one of the operations:

I was very impressed by the stamp selection that each of the operations had available. The CPUs were stocked with commemoratives, and even had the special-order Lady Bird Johnson stamps, which were introduced last November, available. Very few operations, anywhere, have got those! I purchased three panes.

Here are photos of the three operations.

Charleston, SC: Festival Center CPU
Charleston, SC: Festival Center CPU

Charleston, SC: North Pointe Plaza CPU
Charleston, SC: North Pointe Plaza CPU

Charleston, SC: Orange Grove Plaza CPU
Charleston, SC: Orange Grove Plaza CPU

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gopost hits New York

USPS introduced gopost kiosks, a proprietary self-service parcel locker service, just over a year ago in the D.C. metro area. Designed to be placed in high-traffic locations and used at any time of a customer's choosing, registered users can both receive parcels from -- and deposit prepaid packages in -- secure lockers. The kiosks are imposing: they are about 20 feet long and nearly eight feet tall. The structure is gray yet modern, featuring vibrant blue and red accents and a sloped roof. The structures are freestanding, but are designed to be tamper-proof in both the front and the rear. Most importantly, the kiosks increase access to USPS services. The author also suspects that gopost kiosks are also intended to shorten lines (in postal parlance: "improve WTIL:" Wait Time in Line) at post offices with busy Inquiry windows.

Presently, most units feature 80 individual lockers in each of three sizes:
    (34) Small, which can accommodate a package as large as 12" x 15" x 3";
    (32) Medium: 12" x 15" x 6 3/4";
    (14) Large: 12" x 15" x 18 1/2".

The lockers only accept package services; one cannot deposit outgoing First-Class letters into a gopost kiosk. According to this Postal Service FAQ, any Express or Priority Mail product can be handled through gopost, in addition to any parcels that are at least 3/4" thick. The Postal Service opened about a dozen gopost units in northern Virginia early last year, with expansion into D.C. and its Maryland suburbs last fall. I ran across one kiosk last June at the South Station post office in Arlington, VA. Note that this particular unit is both accessible 24/7 and doubly protected from rain. (Indoor kiosks do not possess the curved supports or the red top.)

Arlington, Virginia's South Station post office and gopost kiosk
Arlington: South Station post office with gopost kiosk

gopost kiosk at Arlington's South Station post office

The first kiosk outside the D.C. metro area opened in Manhattan early February: the new unit at the Grand Central Station post office (outside Grand Central Terminal) opened to the public and saw its first customer usage on February 1. Its availability was announced by USPS New York District Manager William Schnaars at the first-day ceremony for the Express Mail-rate Grand Central Terminal stamp that afternoon. The kiosk at the Manhattanville Station on 125th Street opened soon after. A recent query to a staff member at that location suggests that the service is slowly gaining awareness and sees at least modest use.

On May 1 USPS expanded gopost to New York City's most populous borough: Brooklyn. The program was announced as a USPS Local News story a week prior. USPS Vice President Rick Uluski, USPS Triboro District Manager Frank Calabrese, and Brooklyn's legendary Borough President Marty Markowitz each spoke.

Follows are observations and photos of each of the gopost locations in New York City.

At Grand Central Terminal's Grand Central Station post office, there can be as many as a dozen postal clerks on duty at any given time. (In fact, the operation features more staffed windows than this postal tourist has ever seen; again, that's over 5,000 post offices.) Retail hours are 7:30am—9:00pm weekdays (7:30am—1:00pm Saturday) though the lobby is open 24/7, which means that the office's gopost unit and the post office's Automated Postal Center are accessible all hours, as intended. The kiosk is instantly visible upon entry.

New York's Grand Central post office gopost kiosk
New York, NY: Grand Central post office gopost kiosk

New York's Manhattanville post office gopost kiosk
New York, NY: Manhattanville Station post office gopost kiosk

West Harlem's Manhattanville Station is very busy in its own right, and featured three active retail windows plus an Inquiries staffer when I visited last month. The gopost kiosk, whose profile is visible upon entry, commands attention but is not immediately inviting. More visible is the Automated Postal Center which faces the entrance. Retail hours are 8:00am—7:00pm weekdays (8:00am—4:00pm Saturday); however, the lobby closes with the retail windows, meaning both the APC and gopost kiosk are not available at all times. This mitigates their effectiveness.

Good additional candidate post offices for gopost units in Manhattan include the Rockefeller Center Station (among USPS's most expensive leases in the country) and FDR Station (East Side hub) post offices. A kiosk might look out of place inside the General Post Office / 'JAF Station'.

From experience, Brooklyn's Williamsburg Station post office is a reasonable location for a gopost kiosk. I say this because, in a community that has nearly doubled its residential population within the last decade, this post office is woefully overcrowded and lines can be dreadfully long. Until last year the neighborhood's postal operations were supported by a Contract Postal Unit called the Better Letter CPU, yet that was forced to close due to a bizarre provision in the most recent USPS contract with the American Postal Workers Union (APWU). You can find my full write-up of that closure here.

Essentially, anything to mitigate the wait times and provide additional postal services to the people of Williamsburg is welcome news.

Brooklyn's Williamsburg post office gopost kiosk
Brooklyn, NY: Williamsburg Station post office and gopost kiosk

Retail hours for the Williamsburg post office are 9:30am—5:30pm weekdays (9:30am—4:00pm Saturday). But that doesn't matter in this instance because the gopost kiosk here is located outside. It features the red roof without the supports. From the looks of it USPS spent a lot of money implementing this unit: it recessed the barbed-wire fence (presumably sapping a couple of parking spots in the process) and flattened the sidewalk to create a sort of mini handicapped-accessible platform.

Brooklyn, NY: Williamsburg Station post office gopost kiosk

The problem with a gopost unit in Williamsburg is that the unit won't be of much use to the heavily Orthodox population, much of which considers Internet usage sinful. Ergo, they won't be able to sign onto the gopost website to create an account, nor receive emails or text messages to let them know that a package has arrived for them. I suppose the local hipster crowd would be up for a trial, however -- if they have the patience to undergo the process in order to use the system. After filling out an online form, you have to wait two weeks and bring some mailed forms and a card to a participating post office...
After [online] pre-registration, you should receive your gopost account card and packet in the mail within 7-10 days. To then activate your account, you will need to:

1. Complete the Authentication Sheet enclosed in the packet.

2. Take the Authentication Sheet to one of the Post Office™ locations listed on

3. Present one form of government-issued picture ID. (Please make sure your first and last name on your gopost account matches those on your ID.)

4. Receive a confirmation email that your registration is complete and your account has been activated.

Your new gopost card is for you only. Like a credit or debit card, only you should use your gopost card and assigned PIN. Other adult-aged (18 or over) individuals interested in using gopost may register free of charge for their own account, card, and PIN.

Yes, we get it -- this is the Postal Service's automated way of asking you the question "Does this package contain anything liquid, fragile, perishable or potentially hazardous?" But herein lies the fallacy: USPS is applying its bureaucratic processes onto what is supposed to be an entity designed for convenience. And that just won't work. The Office of the Inspector General reported, on May 6, on the results of USPS's initial gopost trial. The report found that "the Postal Service has not made any changes to its complex registration process," even after a full two-thirds of users who had initiated their registration process "gave up on their registration before finalization." Meaning, two in three people who thought they might want to utilize the system were turned off by the process needed to take part in it. Turning off two-thirds of your potential customers is never good.

The 13 original gopost kiosks experienced usage between 1 and 64 parcels per month, per unit. Not per locker; per the entire cluster of 80 lockers. Data for specific kiosks were redacted in the public OIG report.

So what does Going Postal make of it all? These gopost parcel lockers are cool, but: 1) unless they're placed in convenient locations; 2) unless people passing by can immediately figure out what the kiosks are for and why they should use them; and 3) unless the registration process is improved, then the program will be a flop.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

CPU Adventures, I: Small Stories

The Postal Station, also known as the Hollywood CPU in Portland, Oregon, is located on the first floor of an indoor mall in eastern Portland and has been around for ages. Its clashy interior setting is one of the most photogenic the author has seen.

Portland, OR: Hollywood CPU:
Hollywood CPU, Portland, OR

Hollywood CPU, Portland, OR

The operation also offers shipping supplies and copying services. The woman at the counter was very pleasant to this postal tourist.

The Community Post Office in the southern Minnesota town of Searles is as authentic as they get. The community of Searles is located a few miles south of historic New Ulm. If you didn't think the sun could bleach the the signage in such a northern setting, look no further than Searles. The interior is cramped with a handful of P.O. Boxes and a friendly contractor who serves the community for two hours each morning. Searles's population was 171 as of the 2010 Census.

Searles, MN CPO:
Searles, MN CPO

Ahh, El Paso. The destination of a long journey down I-20 or I-10 at the very western tip of Texas. It's the 19th-largest and of the most isolated large cities in America; Albuquerque lies a full 270 miles north, Tuscon 310 miles west, and San Antonio 550 miles southeast. Texarkana, at the other tip of Texas? 810 miles. (El Paso is keeping its mail processing operations, in case you were wondering.)

Nestled between hills and among El Paso proper is the U.S. Army's Fort Bliss installation. A security checkpoint upon entry is a given. If you include the reserved testing grounds to the northeast, Fort Bliss occupies 1,700 square miles. The populated region of Fort Bliss occupies much less than that. The population of the facility, according to 2010 Census, exceeds 8,000.

The centennial of Fort Bliss was commemorated with a three-cent stamp in 1948.
Fort Bliss stamp
Image source.

Fort Bliss possesses a classified [USPS-staffed; not top-secret] post office operation in Fort Bliss 'proper'. East Fort Bliss sprawls northeast, and there is one primary transportation corridor connecting the two parts of the base. While the eastern portion of the base has been expanding, it only made sense to expand postal operations there as well, which USPS did in the form of the East Fort Bliss CPU. The operation opened less than one month before I arrived in El Paso -- August 2012.

Here is a map of the situation:

Fort Bliss postal map

Here is the 'main' Fort Bliss post office:
Fort Bliss post office

The CPU is located in the back of the FirstLight Federal Credit Union -- a good match. The CPU features its own staffer and a fully immersive modern wooden CARS / POS layout. It looks great.

El Paso, TX: East Fort Bliss CPU:
East Fort Bliss CPU

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Nice Touch: Fort Worth, Texas

Last summer outgoing mail processing operations were consolidated from the Jack D. Watson Post Office building -- also known as the Fort Worth Main Post Office and Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) -- to the North Texas P&DC in nearby Coppell (about 18 miles northwest of downtown Dallas).

Here's a photo of the Fort Worth facility:
Fort Worth Main Post Office / P&DC

Actually, USPS's plan for originating mail in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex resembled a game of musical chairs among the three P&DCs it had in the area: Dallas, Fort Worth, and North Texas. Here's USPS's explanation from a news release posted last February:

... the Postal Service has made the decision to move all incoming mail processing operations from the Dallas Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) to the Fort Worth Processing and Distribution Center. Once the transfer is complete, the mail processing operation of the Dallas P&DC will cease.

All outgoing, or originating mail-processing operations now handled at the Fort Worth P&DC will be moved to the North Texas P&DC; however, the Fort Worth P&DC will continue to process mail destined for delivery in parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

The Fort Worth P&DC will handle destinating, or incoming mail for 3-digit ZIP code areas 760, 761 and 764, as well as 751, 752 and 753, mail previously handled at the Dallas P&DC. In addition to 750 and 754 mail, the North Texas P&DC will now handle incoming mail for 762 and 763 ZIP areas currently processed at the Fort Worth P&DC.
Outgoing / originating mail is that which you've placed in a mailbox; it's mail that has been entered into the mailstream. Destinating mail is that which has been processed and is nearing delivery.

Quote this fine article by Fort Worth's Star-Telegram: "The plant is not shutting down; it is part of an operational plan to shift outgoing mail to Coppell," Bolen said. "If you mail a letter, it will go to Coppell, and if it's local, it will come back to Fort Worth, where it will be sorted and processed."

Here's the front entrance for the building, leading to the retail area:
Fort Worth Main Post Office / P&DC

Now, what about that Dallas mail, which was slated to be shipped to Fort Worth to replace the Fort Worth mail that got shifted to North Texas instead? Dallas mail processing presently remains in Dallas -- a victory, one advocate for the cancellation of the proposed change says, in "a fight for first-tier mail services in North Texas." (Read more here.) So, when originating Fort Worth mail processing operations were moved to North Texas, there was no Dallas mail to take its place. So, August 10, 2012 was the last day of the Fort Worth, TX mail-processing postmark.

So here's where the nice touch comes in. As revealed in the pictorial postmarks announcement in the Aug. 9, 2012 Postal Bulletin, the Postal Service created a pictorial cancellation in honor of the last day of cancelling operations at the Fort Worth P&DC. That has not happened since I started collecting cancellations from around the country. Since I was in the area at the time, I decided to check it out for myself!

I handed over a couple of stamped items to be cancelled with the device. The staff was also nice enough to also give me an item handed out to Fort Worth plant employees that afternoon: a stamped #10 envelope postmarked with the same cancel. It might not be everything, but it's still a class act. Here's a close-up:

Fort Worth last-day of cancellation pictorial cancel

As postmarks go, this was crystal-clear and impeccably applied. The postmark design itself is beautiful, and resembles [at least the northern half of] the Jack Watson building. (Perhaps the building before some additions?) If you compare to the two photos I've provided and the satellite image below, you can definitely see the resemblance.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Man, Oh Amana: Post Offices of the Colonies

Edit—May 12, 2013: The Middle [Amana] post office has since reopened. The below content will remain as written on May 5, 2013.

The "lease dispute" strikes again, and according to KCRG-TV out of Cedar Rapids another small-town office bites USPS's emergency suspension dust. The victim this time: Middle, Iowa, also known as Middle Amana. If Amana sounds like the name on your refrigerator, that's because that now-Whirlpool subsidiary began manufacturing coolers in this very town in 1934. But the seven villages that comprise the Amana Colonies have a history that long predates electricity. The villages were founded by immigrant members of the Community of True Inspiration religious sect, who fled Germany in search of religious freedom.

These colonies were called by some "utopian experiments", and they were in fact communal, with "all property was held in common". (The Amana Heritage Society has further details.) The town of ["main"] Amana was settled in 1855, with the surrounding six villages established within eight years.

The Amana Colonies are located in eastern Iowa, about halfway between Des Moines and the Quad Cities and a tad north. Cedar Rapids and Iowa city each lie about 25 miles away, to the northeast and ESE, respectively. The seven villages are Amana, Middle [Amana], High Amana, West [Amana], South Amana, East Amana, and Homestead.

Here's a map presenting the landscape:
The Amana Colonies in Iowa

Of the seven towns in the Amana colonies, six (all but East Amana) have possessed a post office. With the suspension of the Middle post office, that leaves the colonies at two operating post offices: Amana and South Amana.

Photos from 2012 are my own; prior photos come courtesy the Post Mark Collectors Club (PMCC) Museum post office photograph collection — in physical form, that is.

A post office has been operating in Middle since Jan. 14, 1933, and it has been at its present location for most of that time. USPS's Leased Facilities Report sheds light on some of the history of the Middle Amana post office and the terms of its lease. The present site has been occupied since April 1948; the site was likely moved in tandem with Carl Hergert's being named Acting Postmaster that February. (Research shows that Mr. Hergert, a New Year's birthday boy, was 29 years old at the time he became Postmaster; he died in 2003 at the age of 84.) Maintenance is conducted by the landlord (the Amana Society), which cuts down on USPS's operating expenses at this location. The terms for the five-year lease ending April 30, 2013 provided for a 523-square foot site leased for $2,520 a year.

Let's see what we're looking at!

Middle [Amana], IA post office, June 2003 (by J. Gallagher)
Middle [Amana], Iowa post office, 2003

Middle [Amana], IA post office, Oct. 2012
Middle [Amana], Iowa post office, 2012

A comparison of the photos (including this one, at Iowa Backroads) suggests that a new sign was installed between 2003 and 2010. You can read more about a previous closure scare in 1995 at that link as well.

Under USPS's POStPlan the operating costs at the Middle post office were slated to decrease anyway once POStPlan was implemented at the office by next summer; a minimum-wage Postmaster Relief would have been hired to operate the facility for four hours a day.

Additional commentary is available at Save The Post Office, here.

Next up in our Amana postal tour is the town of Homestead, the last town to join the Colonies, in 1861. The post office predates even that development, having been established Aug. 16, 1852. The post office here, too, was suspended, Nov. 28, 2011. Until its suspension the post office was at the same site since 1913. Iowa Backroads discovered this photo, from the Amana Heritage Society Collection, showing the post office in 1919. Physically, IB notes, the building had changed in several ways: "a ramp has been added added, chimneys removed, and supports now prop up the west wall of the building."

Homestead, IA post office, June 2003 (by J. Gallagher)
Homestead, Iowa post office, 2003

I came across the site in 2012, and though the sign had been removed the building was clearly the site of a former post office.

Homestead, IA post office site, Oct. 2012
Homestead, Iowa post office, 2012

The South Amana post office was established Jun. 19, 1874 and is now one of the two that continues to operate in the Amana colonies. It is scheduled to be reduced to a two-hour office as part of POStPlan. (Full information regarding hours reduction in Iowa can be found at Iowa Backroads, here.)

South Amana, IA post office, Sept. 1989 (by M. Anderson)
South Amana, Iowa post office, 1989

A new sign has since been installed.

South Amana, IA post office, Oct. 2012
South Amana, Iowa post office, 2012

The post office has been at its present site since June 1952; its present lease lasts until 2015, is for $5,040 a year, and is also held by the Amana Society. (Keep your fingers crossed.)

Amana's post office, by far the biggest in the Colonies, was established Sept. 3, 1884 and is not slated to incur any cuts as part of POStPlan. The post office has been at its present site since Feb. 1972. Its current lease, also with the Amana Society, costs the Postal Service $14,400 per year and lasts until 2016.

Amana, IA post office, Jun. 2003 (by J. Gallagher)
Amana, Iowa post office, 2003

A comparison with a more recent photo reveals substantial landscaping changes at the building's front entrance.

Amana, IA post office, Oct. 2012
Amana, Iowa post office, 2012

The post office in West [Amana] was established Feb. 28, 1902 and was discontinued March 1991.

Amana, IA post office, Mar. 1990 (by M. Anderson)
West [Amana], Iowa post office, 1990

The post office in High [Amana] was established Apr. 6, 1901 and was discontinued Feb. 29, 1968. We do not have a photograph of this operation available.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Only in New York, II: Return of the Post Office in the Bagel Store

It's been two years since Going Postal first introduced you to the southern Queens community of Broad Channel and its attendant Contract Postal Unit at The Bay-Gull Store. It's been a delight to re-visit this operation and witness its evolution over the past couple of years, which is why the Broad Channel CPU receives another write-up today.

A lot has happened in the Broad Channel community and to the post office since then, not the least of which was the advent of Hurricane Sandy. Broad Channel, separated from the Atlantic by the sliver of land that is the Rockaways, features houses that directly overlook channels of Jamaica Bay. Folks here love to fish off their decks. Sadly, this meant heavy damage during Sandy last fall, and you can read about some of the flooding and devastation here and here.

Today the primary thoroughfare of Broad Channel, Cross Bay Boulevard, appears largely improved but is still recovering. Houses have new roofs, and new windows overlook the street. Buildings bear NYC Building Inspection signs. The Deli and Catering store is open for business (though the old Wharton Pharmacy -- site of the old CPU -- remains vacant after nearly three years; someone should open a restaurant in there). Dozens of cars pack the sidewalks toward Howard Beach (north of 'town') as fishermen swarm the bay...

Cars north of Broad Channel

However, signs of what occurred here still appear: some yards are littered and boards cover plenty of doorframes and windows. Plenty of siding still needs to be replaced.

Broad Channel repairs

That said, this hand-painted sign at the corner of West 18th Road offers a glimpse into the spirit of this close-knit community.

Have Hope; Broad Channel, NY

Entrepreneur Magazine reports that about a third of all businesses in the Rockaways and Broad Channel have still not opened, six months later the hurricane hit. The Bay-Gull Store was fortunate to reopen after six weeks, and has been re-establishing its services ever since. Its recovery mirrors that of the overall Broad Channel community.

Much of Broad Channel was covered with five feet of water during the storm, and Bay-Gull Store owner Pat Williams informed The New York Times that he was "up to his shoulders" as the storm hit, when he raced home to rescue his dog. His store was inundated and he lost nearly everything, from the postal counters to the "biggest freezer, the biggest refrigerator." (Read the full story here.)

After the storm, The Bay-Gull Store served as a community gathering and rallying point. Quote The Times: "The store's porch quickly became a meeting space, its empty cavern a supply distribution center, the surviving pieces of plastic furniture unofficial therapy chairs." Having witnessed the expansion of The Bay-Gull Store over the last two years, I can tell you that Mr. Williams is always looking for new ways to serve his community.

With no insurance, Pat had to rebuild from scratch. This included purchasing a new $17,000 oven [see next paragraph] with which to bake more of his signature cheese bagels, and folks were pleased to witness their return:

Cheese bagels are back in Broad Channel

(Cheese baygulls come in five varieties: cheese; jalapeño; bacon; ham; and spinach, of which the latter are my favorite. There's nothing quite like 'em. Why? The Times writes the following: "They dress loops of uncooked dough in five cheeses — American, Muenster, Swiss, provolone and Cheddar — and then place them into an antique oven that slowly spins bagel trays without disturbing the melting cheese.")

Below: a stack of the delectable five-cheese cheese; I like to heat them up when I get home to get 'em all nice and gooey.

Of course, the special note here is the fact that Broad Channel will have its CPU back up and running shortly, after a six-month suspension of operations. The counter was destroyed, as were all postal materials -- the postal computer system, boxes, 'postmarking' devices, everything. The new setup will be somewhat different. For this it is be helpful to see some before-and-after scenes at the store.

June 2012:
The Bay-Gull Store; exterior.
The Bay-Gull Store

In the back: the postal counter alongside a party balloon display.
The Bay-Gull Store: party balloons

The CPU counter.
The Bay-Gull Store: postal counter

CPU signage outside, behind the ice cream window.
The Bay-Gull Store: CPU sign

Presently the back of the store, which housed the Broad Channel CPU, the party balloon corner, and a Hallmark card stand, lies empty. The ice cream window is gone and boarded up as well, but will return. Pat intends to move his postal operations to the front of the store, by the food counter.

Pat Williams at the counter in The Bay-Gull Store; May 1, 2013.
The Bay-Gull Store: new postal counter

(Author's note: Sonic Eagle [USPS logo] signs supplied to CPUs, which have previously read "Contract Unit," seem to have been replaced with signs that say "Authorized Postal Provider".)

Residents, who must either drive four miles to the Howard Beach post office or pay a toll to reach the closer Rockaway Beach facility, have been eagerly anticipating the CPU's reopening. (Broad Channel residents presently receive an E-ZPass credit when crossing their bridge, so their payment is reduced to $1.31 each way. Regardless, wouldn't you prefer not to pay a toll in order to buy stamps or pick up a package?)

Here's one final photo—the store as it presently stands.
The Bay-Gull Store: May 2013