Businesses bid to open satellite post office 3 owners in Westminster offer Main Street site

December 16, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

At least three business owners are competing to open a

satellite post office in downtown Westminster.

The owners of a flower shop, a tuxedo rental shop and an Italian deli confirmed yesterday that they filed bids by the 5 p.m. deadline Monday to open a limited-service postal center.

Helen Skillman, U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman, said she was unable to learn yesterday whether any other bids were submitted.

Postal Service officials have said a storefront office could be open downtown by February, if a bidder is accepted. The agency solicited bids twice before but rejected all as too expensive.

The Postal Service wants the operator of a storefront post office to sell stamps, mail packages and handle express mail and letters to foreign countries.

Merchants have reported a drop in business since the Westminster post office moved in August from its historic site at 83 E. Main St. to a new facility at 345 Woodward Drive. Business owners say customers who used to stop by stores while conducting postal business are no longer seen on Main Street.

"You'd be amazed at the number of people who say, 'We need a post office here,' " said Tony D'Eugenio, owner of Giulianova Italian Deli in the first block of East Main St. and one of the bidders.

D'Eugenio believes the downtown post office operator will be busier than Postal Service officials predict, based on the number of people who express a desire for postal service.

Postal Service officials estimated at a November briefing that a satellite office in the central business district would do approximately $200,000 worth of business a year.

"I think these were probably the most realistic bids they've gotten from Westminster," said R. Douglas Mathias, executive director of the Greater Westminster Development Corp., which has been trying to restore postal service downtown.

Mathias said the briefing last month, a first for the Postal Service, helped answer business owners' questions and gave them an idea of the agency's needs.

"I think we have every right to feel like we're going to be more successful this time," Mathias said.

The three bidders said they researched the operation of a contract post office before deciding to try to blend it with their existing businesses.

Evelyn Beall, owner of Flowers by Evelyn, an East Main Street shop opposite the now-vacant post office, visited another contract post office operator to learn about the business. She also contracted with the Postal Service to sell stamps after the November briefing.

"They haven't been moving real well yet, because not a lot of people know about it," Beall said, adding that she is trying to publicize the availability of stamps in the business district.

A former employee of Craft World, Beall weighed packages and handled mail during her 15-year tenure with the Westminster area craft business. The business closed four years ago.

D'Eugenio says he has devoted much thought to the rearrangement of his business to accommodate a post office. He said trips to the post office are more difficult for him since the move to Woodward Drive.

"It's very hard for me to run a business and have to jump in the car and drive two miles to get stamps," he said.

He said when the post office was at 83 E. Main St., he could leave a sauce simmering on the stove, run up the street to the post office and be back before it finished cooking.

Robin and Tracey Pool, sisters-in-law and owners of Country View Tuxedo in the Winchester Exchange Building in the first block of E. Main St., also bid to provide postal service.

Pub Date: 12/16/98

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