That means selling stamps, stamped envelopes, Express Mail service, First Class Mail service and registered mail, among other things, according to the website. Retailers are provided USPS branding rights and signage.
"Operating a Contract Postal Unit increases foot traffic and provides additional customer convenience," the USPS website says.
"Greeting cards and post offices go together hand in hand. They're very lucrative. It makes the store a real go-to destination," Designer Greetings spokeswoman Suzanne Haines says.
Haines couldn't quantify the number of Card$mart stores that offer the services.
Since the conference Norman has been trying to get into contact with the appropriate USPS representative, but so far she hasn't been successful. "I'm hoping not to miss the boat on this," she says. "Every day customers come in and ask to buy stamps" and as an accommodation, Card$mart will sell a small amount of stamps.
But Norman sees opportunity in the "underutilized space" in the back of her store. "It seems that it is a viable way to make some money. The bottom line is if we're doing something we have to do it to make money," she says.
"It Always Comes Back to Lotto"
Norman is also putting together the pieces for another revenue experiment that's planned to coincide with their one-year anniversary as store owners this summer.
Early on, Norman admitted that she did not have a good first experience with local coupon advertising, but she's trying it again. This time, she plans to launch the advertising with NY Lottery promotion.
Lotto is a big customer attraction to Card$mart. Last month, the
phenomenon brought a welcome sales surprise to a typically quiet month.
"The intention is to bring more customers into the store. That's always the intention, just like selling stamps," she says. "If you become a postal center [customers] are walking to the back of the store," bringing more foot traffic through the center of the store who will hopefully pick up other items to purchase.
The lotto promotion will feature a coupon offering customers to buy 10 scratch offs, in order to get one free. (Lotto sells a deeply discounted scratch off to its merchants to coincide with the promotion.)
"We want to try something different," she says.
Upcoming One Year Anniversary
As the partners' first anniversary approaches in June, Norman is still reluctant to speak about whether the business is pulling a profit yet, but she did say that they no longer have to inject any personal savings into the business. She also says she wants to see how three large events -- Mother's Day, Father's Day and graduation -- add to the bottom line.
"You can't look at it as if you're making money day to day," she says. "It has to be more on an average for either a quarter or a year because these big holidays will float us through the slow months. Really this is when we should get a little cushion in the bank."
-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.
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