Kudos to the merchant-minded individual who suggested that the Post Office should sell greeting cards in their lobby. After all, if you want to receive letters, you need to send them too.
It turns out that the USPS does an audit every year to measure how long we wait in line. Two minutes is the national average. During that time we have a variety of scenery to peruse.
Beyond the oddities of humanity that lean over the counter to ship parcels bound up like mummified hat boxes, or to mail extravagantly addressed purple letters, or the restive small children that roll across the floor, we can look at the card displays.
The selection isn’t anywhere close to that found at a card store, and that’s good. We only have two minutes to make a choice. But the cards available still represent a middle of the road attempt at gentle humor, quiet sympathy, and friendly reminders.
Next to the greeting cards is a rack of retail gift cards, perfect for the last minute desperate search for an overdue birthday gift.
Across the lobby is another display of stationery sets, and party invitations.
When we are there to pick up our mail, or buy stamps, we have a brief opportunity to snatch a couple of cards, and whip them off to someone who is on our mind at that precise moment.
The USPS is demonstrating a simple case of vertical integration here. They are providing the total service: stationery, gifts, attractive postage stamps and delivery.
What better way to merchandise the universal service that gives you access to over 150,000,000 addresses across the continent?
The next time you visit your post office, take a look around. This is the perfect place to yield to the impulse to greet and treat someone, two blocks over, or on the other side of the country.
It only takes a couple minutes.