by Amy Daniels

Don’t let the name fool you. Visitors expecting a trip to Postal Annex of Greenville to be anything like a trip to the post office or other pack-and-ship stores in town will be delightfully disappointed. Locally owned and operated by Robin Taylor and Paul Gilbert, Postal Annex Store of Greenville opened in August of 2018 and quickly transformed customers’ ideals about shipping. Located in the Bells Fork Shopping Center the busy store is a convenient one-stop shopping experience—ship packages, buy packaging materials, mail your letters or return packages, buy stamps, rent a private mailbox, notarize important documents, get a passport picture taken, handle printing, faxing, copying, binding and laminating needs, pick up a greeting card, copy a key or two AND, to top it all off, shop a large selection of locally made gifts and unique décor while chatting with the friendly owners and staff.

“The most powerful thing I hear when people walk in the door is, ‘Oh! I never expected this!’ explains Taylor, “because they’re expecting the post office. We wanted to be a part of the community, host local artisans and be more of a cool boutique—a one stop shop.”

Pack and Ship

Materials—Visitors to Postal Annex can find a variety of materials for their packing needs, whether for shipping, moving, or storage. Boxes of all sizes, large mailing envelopes, bubble wrap, packing tape, and a selection of stabilizing and protective materials are always available. Friendly staff are always available to offer advice on which materials will work best for the customer.

The high level of personalized customer service is part of what gives Postal Annex it’s ‘mom and pop’ store feel. Although the franchise is part of a national brand, the owners work in the store and pride themselves on knowing their customers by name.

“Our number one priority here at our store is customer service,” says Taylor. “I am so fortunate to have the best customer service team in the area. Courtney and Jessica have a can-do attitude and are extremely customer service oriented. Customers are always appreciative of how knowledgeable and friendly they are. Customer service is a basic, integral part of our service.”

This service extends beyond packing and shipping services. Taylor ensures that everyone who enters the store has a great experience—even younger guests.

“We offer entertainment for the children as well so the parents can do what they need to get done. At our entrance, we have an old-school desk with a Melissa & Doug “Water Wow” book which occupies our small guests while their parents shop and ship. It is a simple, fun, educational line of products that kids just love,” Taylor says.

“As you can see, we are way more than a post office. What makes us unique from any other company that does packing and shipping is our integrity,” Taylor adds.

Domestic & International Shipping—As an authorized shipping center for UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the US Postal Service, Postal Annex helps customers to send mail and packages anywhere in the world for the best price and time frame. 24-hour access private mailbox rental is available as for convenient and secure shipping.

“Not only do we ship all four major carriers, FedEx, UPS, DHL, and the US Postal Service, we are able to pull all the carriers up on the computer, look at competitor pricing and compare the best cost and time frame to get it there,” explains Taylor. “Not only can customers ship all four carriers, they can also return any package through these carriers as a drop-off.”

When it comes to preparing to ship a package, Postal Annex is second to none. Taylor and her team are devoted to ensuring that customers receive the best rates and that all your personal items shipped through the Postal Annex are packaged securely. “I probably put way more packaging, including tape, on it than need be, because I’m shipping it as if it was my own and I want it secured with the end result to get it to its final destination exactly how it was brought in to our store,” says Taylor.

“We are just as invested, if not more, in getting our customers’ items safely and reasonably to their destination as they are. When a customer brings in a big box and it’s really light weight, we’ll ask, ‘What are you shipping? Is the box packed as full as possible?’” Taylor says, “and if it’s not, we repack it, reducing the size of the box, to get them the best rate. No one else in town will do that. We take that second longer to see if we can send it less expensively by packing it differently. Some shipping stores charge for tape. We don’t do that; it’s a much-appreciated part of our service to our customers,” Taylor explains.

Freight Shipping—Postal Annex is the only location in town that offers freight shipping—the next closest freight shipping option is in Kinston. While anyone can get a freight shipping quote online, that estimate doesn’t include the pallet, packaging, or lift-gate services. The Postal Annex team provides estimates based on approximate weight, overall dimensions (height, width, and depth), as well as all wrapping, protective measures, and other packaging.

“It’s one of the simplest processes there is,” says Taylor. “And as an additional service, we will actually pick things up. Paul and I usually do [the freight packaging] ourselves. I have very high standards as to quality packaging and treat every customers’ belongings as though they were my own. We shipped an heirloom chair and side table from a family in Rocky Mount to their son in California,” recounts Taylor proudly. “We packaged that baby up so sweet. [The family was] so impressed. It doesn’t really matter what you ship. We treat everything as if it’s a priceless heirloom.”

Recycle—“I like to let folks know that we recycle,” says Taylor. “We believe in being green and reuse as much material as possible.” With a background in efficiency, Taylor recognizes that recycling materials is beneficial from an environmental standpoint, as well its impact on consumer cost. “When we repack boxes for our customers, we always try to use recycled material first.” Taylor invites customers to drop off clean packing peanuts, air bags, foam, and gently used shipping boxes.

Local Artisans

Although many visitors walk in the door to Postal Annex expecting to find a standard post office set up, the majority of the store is set up as a boutique which hosts local artisans and offers unique gifts. Home décor, novelty pieces, children’s items, and functional art fill the boutique displays and invite visitors to browse.

“We are so much more than a post office,” says Taylor with a smile. “You can buy a card, buy a gift, and ship it right away. We hear so many customers say that they never get a special occasion card or gift out on time, because it’s too many stops. Well, we are a one-stop-shop.”

Showcasing the work of approximately 20 vendors, Postal Annex provides a delightful experience in which customers find that there is always something new to be discovered. From local honey, natural handmade soaps and scrubs, hand-knit wash towels, macramé plant hangers, trusted Sana Botanicals CBD products, and personalized wine accessories to elegant hand crafted jewelry, driftwood art, pottery, and beautiful woodworking pieces (including hand-turned pens), there are gifts for folks of all ages and interests. 

“I’m always looking for more artisans,” says Taylor, “I want different. I want unique. I want something you can’t find in any other store.” 

Full Service Business Center

Postal Annex offers full business center services, including printing, faxing, copying, laminating, binding, passport photos, office supplies, and notary services. “We pride ourselves in being your home office away from home,” Taylor says.

Every staff member is a certified notary. “There is a notary on staff at all times. Even on Saturday,” Taylor says with pride, “There’s not another store around that can say that.”

As part of their mail service, Postal Annex offers personal, business and corporate size mail box rental with unlimited and secure letter and package shipping and receiving. The secure private mail boxes are accessible 24-hours a day for customer convenience.

A Place for Gathering

“My whole life has been retail and customer service. Sitting in the office is the hardest part. I would much rather be up front talking to the customers all day,” says Taylor.

Taylor regularly schedules in-store product sampling, demonstrations, and educational information hosted by vendors. Additionally, she offers a private space for small classes and meetings. The space can accommodate 15-20 participants.

“We want to host more classes, especially hands-on classes,” offers Taylor, “it makes us a part of the community.” 

Taylor’s aspirations include hosting hand-lettering instruction sessions, kids’ art classes, essential oils make-and-takes, CBD oil product demonstration, DIY natural facial scrubs samplings, and more in the Postal Annex gathering space. 

“I love that in 7 months we’ve found so many wonderful regular customers. They hug us when they come in the door and even invite us to their homes. When we first moved here, we heard awesome things about the community, how friendly people were, and I knew that we had made the right decision in coming to Greenville because of how well we’ve been received and how much people really are genuinely friendly. I love the hugs. I really do. It makes my whole day. And when people are so appreciative because they are genuinely welcomed to our store and see how we package their precious items or drop off their letters without having to stand in line at the post office, it’s everything. It’s truly humbling.”

Postal Annex of Greenville is located at 2120 E Fire Tower Road #107 in Greenville, in the Harris Teeter shopping center between the Buccaneer and China Wall restaurant. Call 252.689.6920 for shipping quotes and questions. Stop by the store Monday thru Friday 8am to 6pm and on Saturday from 9am to 3pm to shop and chat. Postal Annex is not open on Sundays, as they value the importance of time for faith and family. “We look forward to you visiting our store soon!”