It’s a typical day at The UPS Store in Willis. Customers drop off packages to be shipped, while others browse the store’s selection of greeting cards and gift boxes. Mailbox customers arrive to check for mail. When a taxidermist walks in the door with two deer heads to be packaged and shipped, nobody raises an eyebrow. During the seven years that Sharon Burrow has owned The UPS Store franchise in Willis, many unusual items have been packaged and shipped, including bicycles, guitars, furniture and saddles.
“It saves me time,” says Mike Cantlon of Cantlon Taxidermy, who has been a regular customer for years. He ships his work all over the country. “I have never had a problem, and I don’t anticipate a problem,” he says. He calls Trina Turpin, store manager, his “professional animal wrapper.”
Because The UPS Store expertly packages items for customers before shipping, many small businesses rely on the store to help them with the hassle of holiday gift-giving. One customer comes in every year with chips and homemade salsa in bags. The staff boxes them in 12-inch cube boxes and ships them to the customer’s business acquaintances, whose addresses are saved in the UPS system. The UPS Store accepts boxes if they have an aggregate length of no more than 165 inches and weigh less than 150 pounds. Even if packages are bigger than that, Sharon says, The UPS Store can arrange for their shipment through its freight service.
The UPS Store charges standard UPS rates with no upcharge, and many customers take advantage of frequent shipper cards. As a convenience to customers, The UPS Store also mails items via the United States Postal Service with a nominal upcharge.
“People come back here over and over again,” Sharon says. “We know their mother and grandmother and their dog and cat. We try hard to call people by name. It’s very personable. We have a great staff. Everybody loves the staff.”
Customers also like the store, Trina says, because of the pleasant, efficient atmosphere. Even during the holiday season, when the store is busy, the staff at The UPS Store tries to minimize waits. “During the holidays, it’s busy, but we are moving them along,” she says.
A Career Change
In 2007, Sharon, a registered nurse, was looking for a career change. She’d always wanted to be a business owner, so she purchased an existing UPS Store franchise. She took advantage of UPS training and learned to package fragile and unusual items safely.
“The thing that attracted me,” she says, “was the fact that UPS has such a long-standing history.”
Sharon, who also owns Kwik Kar Lube and Tune, ultimately moved The UPS Store from its original location in a shopping center on the east side of I-45 to its current location on West Montgomery Street (FM 1097). Customers like the new location, Sharon says, because it’s easy to get in and out of the ample parking lot.
Much More than a Shipping Store
The UPS Store offers an impressive variety of services that can make life convenient for customers. The store shreds documents, provides a fax service, and has an on-staff notary. In addition, the store makes banners and posters, as well as collating, laminating, and binding documents. Three types of binding are available, including a popular spiral binding.
The UPS Store is also a print shop. Black and white, as well as high-quality color copying is available, using the store’s digital production printer. The store offers custom cutting, and can help customers design business cards and other printable materials, such as invitations, envelopes, and carbonless duplicate forms.
“We are proud of our printing,” Sharon says, noting the store offers quick turn-around on printing orders. “When we get a job, we get on it, and we get it done,” she says, citing a recently-completed order of nearly a million copies with a three-day turnaround. Once something is printed, it’s saved electronically, so if a customer later needs to order more, they don’t even have to come to the store. They simply call, ask for minor changes if necessary, and place their order.
One of the store’s services is particularly popular among business owners. The UPS Store offers a turnkey direct mail service, which includes designing, printing, and mailing to specified postal routes. If business owners want to customize delivery to certain subdivisions, the UPS Store can show them corresponding postal routes. “It’s a big job, but we’ve got it down to a fine art,” Sharon says.
The UPS Store also offers postal boxes, which are available to customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Customers, Sharon says, appreciate getting text messages or e-mails when packages arrive in their mailboxes. “They can get that text message and within five minutes, the phone is ringing and they are asking about the package,” she says with a smile. Mailboxes are particularly popular among RVers. Some utilize the UPS Store’s mail forwarding service while they’re away, scheduling deliveries at appropriate intervals.
“It’s very convenient,” says Don Matheson, who owns A Dandy Cabling. Don has a mailbox at the UPS Store for his business mail. “These ladies in here are so nice. They take care of me. As soon as something gets here, they send me an e-mail on my phone so I know it’s here.”
In addition, The UPS Store serves as a drop-off location for packages with pre-paid labels. Businesses that have accounts with UPS often take advantage of the store’s convenient location for drop-offs.
The UPS Store is also just that—a store. Customers can find calendars, greeting cards, and even study guides for some classes. Holiday and special occasion envelopes and boxes—some of them sturdy enough to use as shipping boxes—are also available.
“I like people to walk in and think, ‘Wow! This is a nice store!” Sharon says.