Leland Goes Postal: Town Gets New USPS Location
Leland made its mark on the map in 1898 when it took steps toward opening its first post office. In order to make mailing logistically possible for this unnamed town, the United States Post Office Department required a title for the area in which it would be located. Joseph Gay, who had agreed to serve as postmaster, decided to name the town after his nephew, Leland Adams. And the rest is mail handling history.
Leland’s first post office was responsible for much more than naming the town. The post office made it possible for locals to connect with one another; it added convenience since residents no longer needed to travel long distances to mail a package. One could argue that the foundation of a post office served as the initiating factor in Leland’s path to becoming the burgeoning town that it is today.
Now with more than 13,000 residents, explosive development and consistent road adjustments to accommodate the additional traffic that comes along with all of this growth, it is clear to everyone that lives in or visits the area: Leland is booming.
Local growth is so significant that Ace Hardware of Leland’s new owners recognized a need for a second U.S. Postal Service (USPS) location. Their thought: more people, more post offices needed.
“Leland needed another convenient location for mailing,” says Shannon Barker, new owner of Ace Hardware on Village Road. “Our customers have consistently said how they hate driving all the way down Village Road to drop off mail.”
The primary post office is located at 1123 Village Road, a convenient site for those located near or traveling from northern Leland. But not so efficient for those driving down Highways 17 and 74/76 or the Bellville area, which is where the bulk of the new development is taking place.
“We have several customers from the Brunswick Forest, Magnolia Greens and Waterford communities who have been very vocal about how nice it is to now have a post office this close to their homes and places of business,” says Shannon.
The USPS location in Ace Hardware, which is located at 117-B Village Road behind the BB&T Bank and CVS Pharmacy, is capable of handling almost all postal needs. Packages can be mailed, and stamps and packaging products can be purchased. The only thing that Ace Hardware cannot do is sell money orders or offer post office boxes.
Perhaps the most convenient concept about the USPS location in Ace Hardware is the ability to drop off mail seven days a week. Mail is picked up at 4:30 pm Monday through Friday and at 3:30 pm on Saturday, but customers can drop off packages and purchase postal products at any time during Ace’s regular business hours. Have a package that you need to drop off on Sunday but the post office is closed? No problem. Have urgent mail that needs to get out during the lunch rush and don’t want to stand in line at the post office? That’s what Ace thought.
Shannon and employee Brent Williams, who have been with the store since its opening in 1998, are trained to package and post mail.
“It was a several-day training program,” explains Shannon. “But we can now handle almost everything that the traditional post office down the road can. And we save our customers a bunch of gas because we’re located so much closer. That’s a nice perk in this economy.”
Ace Hardware, which Shannon and his wife, Landon, purchased in January 2011, launched its post office in the middle of March 2011, just in time for the tax deadline.
“We saw a huge increase in business during tax season,” says Landon, “and it hasn’t slowed down since.”
The Barkers say that their customers’ love saving the drive time once required in reaching a post office. But they also love the convenience of knocking out their shipping and shopping needs in one stop. Although under new ownership, Ace Hardware continues to offer the same home improvement products, from lumber to landscaping supplies, paint to plumbing needs, power equipment to tools. New to the store are fishing tackle and supplies and also a friendly face: Roxy, the African grey parrot.
Loyal customers appreciate the added convenience of the USPS unit but were already sold on shopping at Ace. With a manager and several employees who have been in place since the store’s inception, customer service is assured.
“Everybody knows everything here,” says Shannon. “Our customers shop here because they like not having to page an employee and wait, search for a product, wander down endless aisles with no help. With us, someone meets you at the door and helps you find the product, purchase the product and even hold the door for you on the way out. That’s different. That’s why they come back.”
Shannon’s sense of humor and gentle spirit make shopping at Ace a fun experience. Energetic and charismatic Landon serves as the store’s behind-the-scenes maker-of-all-things-possible. Adorable 1-year old daughter Kensington makes an occasional appearance, resulting in only bigger smiles from their patrons. Then, of course, there’s that Roxy, who mimics her favorite regular customers in only the most lovable fashion. Well, most of the time.
“When my daughter was born, my career goals changed,” says Shannon. “I was ready to be more than a manager. I wanted to make a mark. So when the opportunity to purchase the store came about, Landon and I thought it was the perfect chance to do just that.”
If at one time a post office proved to the world that a town was truly a town, imagine what it means when it gets not one, but two. It’s safe to say that this is proof: Leland isn’t little any longer.