Post Office Is Weathering Its Face-lift

Posted: February 21, 2000

UNIONVILLE — Helen Martin couldn't find her mailbox when she went to the post office Thursday.

"Every time I've come in, it's been in a different place," the West Marlborough resident jokingly told the postmaster, James Robison.

Mailboxes have been popping up in new places each day and things in general have been topsy-turvy in recent weeks as the post office gets a face-lift and prepares for a new computer system.

"Nobody has said anything negative yet," Robison said. "They're just anxious to see what it will look like when it's done."

Renovations to the 10-year-old post office, which has 820 mailboxes and about 150 service-window customers each day, should be complete in early March, Robison said.

Customers have been welcomed by pounding hammers, the piercing sounds of drills, and a humming vacuum. Some have to walk around ladders to get to their boxes.

The service window has been moved from the right side of the lobby to the left. About 30 new-customer mailboxes have been added, and all 820 have been rearranged to make it easier for employees to distribute mail. The new service window is larger and has room for a point-of-sale computer system, which, among other benefits, tracks sales trends.

The current computers, known as Integrated Retail Terminals, record transactions but not with the same detail as the point-of-sale system. For example, when people buy stamps, the new system will record the kind of stamps purchased.

"The reason we're installing them is [the U.S. Postal Service is] one of the largest retailers in the United States, but we don't have any database that can track sales trends," said Dottie Taylor, point-of-sale coordinator for the Postal Service's Lancaster District.

Of the roughly 400 post offices in the district, 51 have such systems, Taylor said. About a dozen Chester County post offices have point-of-sale systems.

Unionville should receive the new computer system this summer, Taylor said.

The Unionville post office is part of the Lancaster District, which encompasses nine counties, including Chester.

The work at the post office hasn't kept customers away from what many consider a place to socialize and scan posted advertisements and business cards.

"It's a social meeting place where you catch up on gossip with your distant neighbors," said Leona Provinski of Unionville.

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