Post offices reconceptualized as small business support centers
Photo: Becky Sweeney picks up a package at the post office on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 in Websterville, Vt. The post office was on the list of rural offices to be closed in Vermont. Bending to strong public opposition, the nearly bankrupt U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday backed off a plan to close thousands of rural post offices after May 15 and proposed keeping them open, but with shorter operating hours.(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
In April at a "temporary urbanism" event at 14th and Colorado NW that I still haven't gotten around to writing about, one of the volunteers and I were talking about his business being located in a small space there on Colorado Avenue, and his need to be close to his bank and ideally a post office, because of mailing needs and various other related activities.
So it got me thinking about how to reposition post offices to be business centers, even shared office type spaces, to make them more relevant in the 21st century as people use email more and more instead of the mail (but not for packages and documents that need to be signed).
But think about how UPS services were integrated into the company now called the UPS Store but was once called Mailboxes Etc. or how Kinkos (now FedExOffice) is "the branch office" for so many people needing access to printing and computing services.
Co-working spaces extend this idea by adding access to conference rooms, coffee, etc., like the co-working spaces at the Third Ward cooperative space in Brooklyn. But there are many other examples of co-working spaces around the country. See the co-working webpage at Deskmag and the feature on 16 different co-working spaces around the country from Inc. Magazine.
Post offices could do that too. (And I've wondered why Staples or FedExOffice hasn't tested the idea either.)
But it won't ever happen because the Post Office is seen as a "government service" and the way that the post office workers unions control the Congressional committees with oversight over the USPS make it almost impossible that the organization could reposition. The "government" and "Congress" is the last place you go to for innovation and branding prowess.
How do we make Post Offices relevant in the 21st Century.
Also see "Post Offices Join List Of Nation's 'Most Endangered Historic Places" from NPR and "Historic Post Offices" from Comcast.