GCI adds mail to its musubi, mochi crunch and mascara lineup
THE term convenience store takes on a new meaning at GCI Express
at Restaurant Row today -- as the store begins to offer U.S. Postal Service services.
It is a contract postal unit, in USPS lingo.
"We wanted to be more of a service to the neighborhood," said David Lee, who owns the shop with his wife Grace.
Four of the store's nine employees have received USPS training to provide just about every service available at an actual post office, including metered mail postage -- something area businesses likely will appreciate.
The store is open from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday. Postal services will be available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Contract postal units don't offer P.O. boxes or money orders, according to the USPS Web site, but those appear to be the only service limitations.
When the USPS debuts a new stamp, post offices can get slammed by long lines of hard-core philatelists. Stamps also will debut at GCI, as at other contract postal units.
Having postal services in a convenience store seems a natural fit.
Whether they have always been called contract postal units, the practice goes back generations, to when rural towns' general stores also were where folks picked up and sent out their mail -- and got caught up on all the gossip.
Of Hawaii's 22 contract postal units, 15 are on Oahu, said Duke Gonzales, USPS public affairs officer in Hawaii.
"I think the people that provide the service are not going into it necessarily to make a lot of money, but it provides additional service to their customers," he said. The postal services help drive traffic and those customers also may buy other stuff.
The Postal Service provides the counters, drawers, signage, register, meter, scale and all the basic hardware at no charge. The contract postal unit operator is responsible for the build-out, including equipment installation. The operator continues to pay its lease and buy its postal supplies from USPS, "and we pay them a percentage of their sales every month," Gonzales said.
USPS also will send postcards to people in the surrounding area alerting them to the new service location, "so we help with the marketing, too."
"We are certainly willing to talk to anyone else who may be interested in opening a contract postal unit," Gonzales said. "It is an efficient way for us to extend our service." Interested business operators should call the USPS Hawaii marketing department at 423-3801.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com