Business feature: Pack and Mail making transition

The storefront may say Pack and Mail, but it's obvious that a quick look in the Prince Street location makes little of its business with actual packing and/or mailing of items.

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson

Pack and Mail employee Mark Call, right, helps Robert Miller with a package Monday afternoon. Miller was mailing books to a relative. The business will move to a to-be-determined location July 17, when work to tear down a warehouse adjacent to the business begins.

A sports decal here, a custom-printed pin there, and clothing on every wall of the small shop are just some of the transitions the business has made in its 24th year in Clovis.

Come July 17, the business will be pushed to make another transition, as it will be unable to do business at its location on the 2500 block of Prince Street.

That's the day work to tear down the warehouse to the south and west of his business will begin. The owner of the warehouse, Pack and Mail owner Duane Chase said, controls the utilities for his business.

David Petty, owner of the warehouse, said taking down the warehouse is a simple business decision. There are no definite businesses moving into the spot, but Petty said the spot is much more valuable as open Prince Street property than as a warehouse.

There's no animosity in the move, as Chase said he may possibly stay in the location, or move to the location on Prince Street vacated by Burns Hardware when it took over Triangle Ace earlier this year. But he's not sure what he'll do in the interim or on a permanent basis.

Pack and Mail, which started in 1988 on 1501 North Prince, was born out of Chase's involvement with order fulfillment. The location currently has four employees — Chase, his wife Lisa, account manager Teresa Loya and customer service associate Mark Call.

While he was a utility company meter-reader in the 1980s, Chase wrote software to help artist Chuck Glikas move products and worked the phone room during broadcasts of Glikas' art show. Later on, the same software was used for another connection; through Billy Stull of Norman Petty Studios, Chase handled fan club business for Brad Maule, known for his character as Dr. Tony Jones on "General Hospital."

Chase believed the software could work for mail delivery and for promotional items. He became the 26th affiliate of the Pack and Mail brand, a Lubbock-based company with 280 locations nationwide. Sir Logo, added in 1995 for expected business drops due to the Internet, was the 28th affiliate of I Promote U.

The mail service works with the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS, with most of its money coming in the form of discounts it receives as a package pickup point for those agents. Its mailbox rental, ranging from $6 to $10 monthly, gives customers a physical address, 24-hour access to the mailbox and a drop-off point for a person that can't wait at home on packages.

From 1988 to today, Chase said the volume of mail has gone down about 75 percent at Pack and Mail, largely due to the Internet. A customer in 1992 would buy an item locally and then visit a shipment center to get it to the intended recipient — but that same customer 20 years later goes to the store's website, buys the item and ships it without leaving the house.

For that reason, Sir Logo has become the primary economic driver for the business, with other features added over the years. In 1998, Lisa started the banner sign portion of the business, and she handles most of the design and marketing for that and decals promoting local shools.

Sir Logo offers numerous custom-printed projects, though it often outsources the material and labor work. Also, most of the store's floor space is leased to Chase's sister, Cheree Bilberry, for her line of clothing and jewelry.

"Nationally, they're all having to add other things," Chase said of other Pack and Mail franchises. "It's not an aspect unique to Clovis."

When Pack and Mail/Sir Logo move, Chase said he can keep the business as a small office location. But he's leaning towards expansion to house merchandise —particularly in New Mexico-themed items, based on how well package throw-ins like jalapeno peanut brittle and jars of local salsas sell.

Plus, you never know what good will come from mailing a package. A major at Cannon Air Force Base stopped in to mail something to a relative, and the first contact led to Sir Logo marketing a health program at the base.

The work ended up being adopted by 10 other bases, mainly through online recommendations. As much as the Internet has hurt the mail businesses, Chase said, it's made business much easier for a business like Sir Logo.

"Our business is very visual," Chase said. "Because of the Internet, instead of sending copies in the mail you can email full-color descriptions."

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