U.S. Postal Service Tests Post Office Greeting Card Sales

One of the few things that people still use the U.S. Postal Service to do is send greeting cards. Americans receive an average of 20 greeting cards per year, and they have to come from somewhere. So why not save a trip and buy those cards right at your local post office?

Yes, the U.S. Postal Service is testing the sale of greeting cards at 1,500 local post office, and the test begins with a selection of cards from Hallmark.

A Postal Service study confirmed that customers think selling greeting cards at post offices is appropriate and that they would buy them if offered, Bernstock said. The goal is for the cards to help boost postal retail sales by 30 to 40 percent.

A 2006 law allows the Postal Service to sell various mailing and packaging products and other mail-related items, including cards. Officials awarded the one-year deal to Hallmark’s Sunrise Greeting card line, with the option to extend the deal for two more years.

If the greeting card business is successful, the USPS plans to try to introduce more products beyond their current selection of shipping supplies and stamp-related gifts. This could include prepaid cell phones and financial products, which are available in many other countries’ post offices.

The Postal Service’s ‘get well’ plan? Greeting cards. [Federal Eye/The Washington Post]

(Photo: tjean314)

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  1. TheOrtega says:

    The Milwaukee Post office’s are pretty crummy, Long lines,grumpy lifer employees and they never have the packing materials I need. I’d go to the $1 before I bought a greeting card from my local post office. If they need revenue they need to change things up and compete on a level of their rivals.

  2. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    We ship a ton of packages at the USPS and unfortunately stand in line too much there. That has at least given us a lot of insight to the workings of the USPS. At least 10% of people that wait in line need help with packaging, getting a box, taping up their package, etc. etc. And then the surly postal clerk with a job for life sends the person to go buy packaging supplies for the UPS store. Why the post office doesn’t make it easier for people to get these supplies there is beyond me? I doubt it will execute selling greeting cards much better.

    • subtlefrog says:

      @johnfrombrooklyn: I’d have to agree – most of the time people have no clue how to put their packages together. Maybe this is because you’re in Brooklyn, I’m in LA – smalltown postoffice, USA is probably very different, but here, we have the same problems. It seems like there are some very simple and very tangible things USPS could be doing to help with profits and satisfaction.

      On the other hand, most people seem to go in expecting USPS to provide those supplies for free, which may be why they are directing them to UPS at this point. If there is no mechanism in place for them to charge, from a loss-prevention standpoint, is it worth the business when people walk out with that much in supplies?

    • Powerlurker says:

      @johnfrombrooklyn:

      Really? All the reasonably sized post offices I’ve been to, sell stuff like boxes and packing tape.

  3. pop top says:

    This is a great idea. They should’ve done this a lot sooner, instead of continually raising the cost of stamps.

  4. barb95 says:

    My mom is going to LOVE this.

  5. PLATTWORX says:

    Let’s see. Twice this week I had the misfortune of having to go into a local post office because I had a Priority Mail package to send that had a label on it, but was too large to put into one of the few remaining blue mailboxes you see around.

    I went inside only to discover ONE out of SIX customer service windows was open while postal clerks could be see wandering around able to open another window but didn’t, there was a line of SIX TO TEN customers waiting to be served by the one clerk who moved at snail’s pace and enganged in idle chit chat with each customer and ignored the sighs from the others who had been made to wait for each little “Oprah moment” to end so the line could proceed.

    I finally got to the front of the line, received no greeting, said “I’d like to drop this box off, it already has postage” to which I got a “ok, next!” and the clerk tossed my box over his shoulder into a bin.

    THAT took me 20 minutes to accomplish.

    and the USPS thinks adding GREETING CARDS to their lobby is a good way to improve service and encourage people to mail things?

    Really?

  6. redskull says:

    Seems like a good idea on the surface I guess– you’ve got to mail the card, so why not buy it where you mail it. But I wonder how many post offices are set up to have a rack of cards inside? The two POs in my area have room for a rack of shipping boxes and the waiting line, and that’s about it. I can see it getting crowded in there with a line of people waiting, plus people browsing for cards.

    Good luck to them though. Both the Post Office and Hallmark are bleeding money these days, so maybe if they join forces they can reverse the trend.

  7. ktetch says:

    I grew up in the UK, every post office there has sold cards for 30+ years. Most also sell sweets, cigarettes, newspapers/magazines, and who knows what else. The one I grew up by (a local one) did it with two counters. Official post office business (packages, withdrawing money from post office accounts etc) had to be done at the ‘cage’ counter at the back. The ordinary newsagent/convenience store stuff (including stamps, packing materials and cards) were done at a counter down the side. Kept things working nicely.

  8. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Not to get off topic and nitpick, but: How are cellphones “mailing and packaging products” or “mail-related items?”

    • TheOrtega says:

      @Loias: They aren’t but they are items that can be sold at the Post Office to bring in revenue. It’s a impulse item like that at the checkout counter of the grocery store or Target.

    • MostlyHarmless says:

      @Loias: They are not, but in many places they are a convenient place to get it done. If its any consolation, you can even find prepaid cellphone cards at tea carts, and small shops selling tobacco.

      Indian post offices also sell financial products like Fixed Deposits (CDs) and Bonds.

      I know this because my dad bought a bunch of long term ones when I was a kid, and then I had to take my mom to that post office to cash them. It was a terrible terrible experience.

      As opposed to the post offices there, the ones i’ve been to here are SOOOOO much better maintained and modernized.

  9. ilves says:

    don’t most people mail cards by putting them it their outgoing mail at their house or into a mailbox? why would i go to the post office to mail a post card?

    • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

      @ilves: I do go to the post office to mail cards overseas.. I don’t keep international stamps on hand because I never know if the rate is going to change or what.

      But that’s what happens when you marry an Australian I guess.

  10. Powerlurker says:

    20 greeting cards per year? What are they sending them for? I can count the number of cards I send and receive in an average year on the fingers of one hand.

    • MameDennis says:

      @Powerlurker: My guess is that the average is skewed by older people, who are more likely to do massive Christmas card mailings. But this is only a guess!

  11. vladthepaler says:

    I wish they still offered haircuts.

  12. lchen says:

    i find my local post office to be great, even long lines move relatively fast, and the service friendly. i also like how they are 2 blocks away so if i missed a package delivery it takes 5mins to get there and pick it up from the pick-up window (no lines). i just refuse to pay ups or fedex prices when i have choice.
    and when was the last time they raised the prices on money orders? they could just up it by 1 or 2% and they could rake in a lot.