Behind the Scenes of a Small Biz: In April, the Postman Rings

Editor's Note: This article is the fourth installment in our "Winning the Card Game" series. Dana Norman and Michele Rothberg acquired discount greeting card store Card$mart in June 2011. They agreed to let TheStreet follow them for one year as they experience the ups and downs of running a business. Based on advice from their accountant, the owners have declined to share revenue and profit numbers.

PLAINVIEW. N.Y. ( MainStreet) -- With the approach of the May 15 deadline when the U.S. Postal Service is expected to close several hundred post offices and distribution centers, Card$mart co-owner Dana Norman is giving a fresh look to her idea of remodeling the back room of her greeting card store into a satellite post office.

Frankly, it's not surprising that Norman is looking to expand into postal services. The energetic business owner is constantly looking for -- and experimenting with -- potential revenue generators.
Card$mart owners Norman and Rothberg want to add postal services to the store.

Norman had thought of the idea to add the postal services last year. As they acclimated to being store owners and dealt with the normal day-to-day issues of running a business, she had shelved the idea. However, the upcoming post office closings combined with Norman and Rothberg's attendance at the Card$mart National Conference in mid-April has rejuvenated her interest.

Card$mart licenses its name from Designer Greetings, which is also the vendor of the "50% off" line of cards the store sells. Yet the partners are not franchisees in the sense that they do not pay franchise fees or royalties to Designer Greetings. Norman and Rothberg are required to carry the Designer Greetings 50%-off card line, but can also sell other items and cards of their choice. Designer Greetings has declined to disclose how many independent retailers license the Card$mart name.

The Card$mart National Conference allows newer retailers to visit Designer Greetings headquarters (in Edison, N.J.), showroom and warehouse, and provides retailer workshops, informal idea exchanges as well as product and program presentations.

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Norman says while she didn't know what to expect during her first Card$mart conference, she did pick up some useful tips and met with vendors. It was at the conference where Norman met several Card$mart owners that were already offering the postal services.

"It re-lit that fire in me to make that back room into a post office," Norman says.

The USPS encourages retailers to serve as a Contract Postal Unit, or CPU. The satellite is "a supplier-owned or supplier-leased site operated by the supplier, under contract to the Postal Service to provide postal services to the public at Postal prices," according to the USPS website.

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