The Postman's Keanna Pickett "Our business is thriving in the Central District"
It is 6pm on a recent Thursday evening at Garfield Community Center and Keanna Pickett, Co-owner of The Postman, a shipping and small business services company located in the Central District, is attending the "Bring Back Our Central District Post Office" community meeting organized by Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant regarding the possible opening of a temporary post office to serve the Central District.
The original post office, once located in the Midtown Center on 23rd and Union, was closed on December 31st of last year to make way for the new Midtown Plaza apartments which breaks ground next month.
Pickett, who is 8 months pregnant, had her 5 year old daughter Khloe in tow and patiently waited in the rear of the room to speak to the audience of about 50 concerned community members.
Many if not all of those gathered on this evening point to the United States Postal Service's (USPS) closing of the 23rd and Union location without a clear plan for a new or temporary one to serve the community as just another Central District institution that has become the latest casualty in the gentrification assault currently playing out in the CD.
The Postman is located just 4 blocks from the old post office and was already rapidly growing a solid customer base but has now seen a boom in business since USPS shuttered its doors 5 months ago.
During the two hour long meeting, the audience, mostly comprised of neighborhood elders, who by the way have been most impacted by the loss of the post office, stood up and aired their grievances and in some cases their down right anger about the closure of the post office.
However, many of those who showed bitter contempt towards the USPS and demanded a new one be opened right away listened intently when Keanna addressed the crowd and listed off the many services that The Postman provides to the community well beyond just mailing as well as the abundance of parking around The Postman (parking is very important for the elders). When Keanna was done speaking, the audience applauded and someone in attendance shouted "We love The Postman, they are nice people".
Pickett has found that through expanded service offerings, great customer service, being present and active in the community (like she was tonight) and an excellent location, that the Postman is now thriving in the Central District.
She has also found that before the post office closing, The Postman was just an option, but today, for so many in our community it is now a necessity.
This is a responsibility that Pickett does not take lightly and why she is present tonight, to let those in attendance know that The Postman is there to support them.
Community Connections and Family Roots
Picket says that community is at the heart of The Postman.
All it takes is a scroll down the @Postman_Seattle Instagram page and it does not take long to realize that The Postman has literally made community building part of their overall business and communications strategy.
On the timeline you will find photos of customers that were taken outside the front window of The Postman and it is clear that The Postman's customers are made of young and old, Black and White, and even a few dogs.
The community concept is nothing new to Keanna and her husband and co-owner, D'Vonne Pickett Jr. D'Vonne's family has deep roots in the Central District that go back for five generations.
D'Vonne's late Grandfather, Jacques Chappell, was a USPS letter carrier in the Central District for 37 years and it is Chappell's image that comprises The Postman logo.
The Postman has anchored a solid customer base at their flagship location on Martin Luther King and East Union and the business has grown from just Keanna and D'vonne when The Postman first opened last year to now having 4 part time employees.
This growth has also put The Postman in a position where they are now eyeing other opportunities in the Central District.
New opportunities on the horizon
Pickett says that as the demographics of the Central District continue to shift due to gentrification that The Postman has taken notice and they plan to expand from their one location to at least two and possibly three locations across the Central District over the next few years.
Pickett says that with there currently being no post office or shipping services businesses between Mountlake and Mount Baker or east of Broadway and with the population density in the Central District skyrocketing that the time is right to open satellite locations to offer convenient walkable or bikeable service to as many different areas of the Central District as possible also pointing out the current The Postman location on Martin Luther King and East Union has an abundance of parking for those that need to drive.
The Postman’s expansion model is well suited for the millennials moving into the area that want to walk or ride a lime bike to a local establishment where they can not only send or receive a package but perhaps also purchase a painting or a t-shirt from a local artisan and stay up on local news.
Many of the millennials are also using shipping methods well beyond what the USPS offers including legacy services like FedEx and UPS as well as many of the numerous courier shipping and return services that have sprouted up around the Amazon online shopping boom.
The demographic shift in the community as well as the need for elders to have reliable postal services has been a winning combination for The Postman and has enabled them to serve many segments of the community at a high level.
Only time will tell
Only time will tell if the USPS will keep their promise and return postal service to the Central District. According to Greg Shelton, who is the Real Estate Manager for the USPS, the soonest a new post office could open would be 9 months or it could be closer to 3.5 years depending on the final analysis and options.
Nearly everyone in the community agrees that the post office needs to return to the Central District.
I would venture to say as well that all in the community are grateful that The Postman is here to serve our shipping and mailing needs when we need them the most.
Omari@AfricatownMedia.com / @Omarisal