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Buy a greeting card -- at the post office

Postal Service wants to offer other new products to stop the bleeding.

By Karen Datko Oct 29, 2009 6:17PM

The U.S. Postal Service is struggling partly because fewer people use snail mail. So how's this for a fix? Post offices have begun selling greeting cards.

 

They are available at 500 post offices under a one-year contract with Hallmark and will be sold at 1,000 more after Jan. 1 as part of this experiment.

 

You may not find this service in your neighborhood. The USPS has 37,000 or so locations -- although several hundred will likely be closed as a cost-cutting measure. (Here's the latest list under consideration for the axe (.pdf file).)

And there's more news, The Washington Post reports:

Most European and Asian postal services sell financial or insurance services or prepaid cell phones, said Postmaster General John E. Potter, and U.S. postal officials want Congress to grant permission to explore the possibility of doing something similar.

What do you think? The card sales make good sense to us, considering a number of factors.

  • People love greeting cards, receiving an average of 20 a year.
  • About 4 billion of the 7 billion sold each year still go through the mail.
  • The USPS is an "independent" federal agency that depends on the sale of goods and services -- not taxpayer dollars -- to survive.

And there's the rub. The Postal Service ended fiscal 2008 with a $2.8 billion net loss. Mail volume is expected to drop by 28 billion pieces this year, and the Postal Service faces an estimated deficit of $7 billion when the current fiscal year ends. That's why postal officials are shrinking the workforce, closing post offices, studying whether to adopt five-day-a-week delivery -- and selling greeting cards.

They're really trying to keep up with the times -- going mobile with many online services earlier this month. (Plus, we love the Simpsons stamps.)

 

"It doesn't take a genius to figure out that we're not going to sell the same number of stamps going forward," Potter said at the National Press Club this month.

 

Related reading:

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