Mandatory reno costs doom tiny post office

Here's the math: Amy earned five bucks on the sale of a hundred bucks worth of stamps, and 12 per cent on the price of parcels although, if customers paid for their shipping over the Internet, all she made was a few cents for scanning the bar code. Overall? She said, "If I took in more than $300,000 a year, they would pay me $25,000."

The Toronto Star
November 4, 2009

Mandatory reno costs doom tiny post office
Joe Fiorito

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Joe Fiorito Toronto Star

There used to be mail delivery on Saturdays and … okay, enough nostalgia. There also used to be a postal outlet in the Double-D Variety Store on Danforth at Coxwell. Not any more.

Canada Post is redesigning its local postal outlets, and it is introducing a new computer system. The new computers are expensive, as is the redesign, and the costs are borne by the little neighbourhood postal outlet operators; the changes mean that some outlets are on the chopping block and others are being forced to close.

The people of the Junction saved their postal outlet last week, after collecting more than 4,000 signatures on a petition. Would that all neighbourhoods were so well organized.

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Amy Liao owns the Double-D with her husband; in addition to greeting cards and school supplies, she offered postal services from a counter at the back.

Amy said, "In the spring, Canada Post said they were going to upgrade the computers. I have two computers. It would cost me $12,000 to get new ones. And the new design would cost almost $70,000."

That's a lot of money for a mom-and-pop store.

Should she have made the additional investment?

Here's the math: Amy earned five bucks on the sale of a hundred bucks worth of stamps, and 12 per cent on the price of parcels although, if customers paid for their shipping over the Internet, all she made was a few cents for scanning the bar code.

Overall? She said, "If I took in more than $300,000 a year, they would pay me $25,000."

In other words, a postal outlet is not a licence to print money but, when added to the profit from the store, it helped her make a modest living.

Amy said, "I had a contract until Jan. 4, 2011. Then, in February, they gave me an estimate, and they gave me two weeks to sign."

And she paused and took a breath and out poured a torrent: "I have two girls in university. I have a son with special needs. I had to send him back home to Taiwan to stay with my mum. There are no programs for him here. I haven't seen him for three years.
"I work Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. I have to stay at night and do my end-of-day, and send reports. On Saturday I work all by myself. I used to have two boys to help. They stole from me. I had to borrow money from relatives to pay that money back.

"I either help my husband find a new business or I go back home. I have a degree. I'm a teacher. I came here for a better life."

She dried her eyes and talked about her options. She could have bought the new computers, but she couldn't get a commitment from the post office for a contract beyond 2011. Nor would the post office take her existing computers back. Nor would they agree to let the contract go to a new owner if Amy and her husband sold the business.

Finally, Amy said, she'd had enough. She misses her son and wants to go and see him. Truth is, she might have quit anyway when the contract was over.

But – and this is important for the neighbourhood – she might have been persuaded to stay a little longer.

Her last day of business was Oct. 28. There is no other postal outlet nearby. Word on the street is that the Shoppers Drug Mart down the street will get a postal outlet, but no one I talked to at the Shoppers had any idea if, or when.

Joe Fiorito usually appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Email: ac.ratseht|otiroifj#ac.ratseht|otiroifj

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/720811--fiorito-mandatory-reno-costs-doom-tiny-post-office


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