EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - The post offices in Vail and Avon have an answer to the old question: Where do I tell (company X) to send this package?
Some companies send everything they ship through a private delivery service, which don't deliver to post office boxes. Some use the U.S. Postal Service. Others mix it up, so you never know whether to put in your mailing or physical address on the order form. Then, of course, there's the issue of whether to have a package sent to work or your home.
Now, the up-valley post offices have rolled out a service called "street addressing," in which everything you order will come to the post office you use.
Here's how it works: Use the physical address of the post office in Vail or Avon, as well as your post office box number. People at the post office will then put the packages in a secure parcel locker, and customers can pick them up at their convenience.
The service came first to Vail, where former postmaster Mike Kervin said it's been "hugely successful."
Since the post office provides home delivery in Vail, the private delivery companies use postal carriers to get packages to doorsteps. Still, there had been confusion when a package came to a post office box, resulting in a lot of returned items.
The new service cut down on those returns, Kervin said.
Kervin is the brand-new postmaster in Avon, and the service has just started there. Kervin said about 50 people so far have signed up, and he expects many more to do so, and soon.
The street addressing service started this year. U.S. Postal Service spokesman David Rupert said about 6,800 post offices nationwide now offer it. Rupert said street addressing is being used elsewhere as a way to encourage customers who might move around frequently in cities to consider using post office boxes - which are a source of revenue for the postal service.
Rupert said postal officials will evaluate the success of the service before deciding if and when to expand street addressing.
For now, though, the service is available at the busiest post office in the valley, and one of the busiest in the state - Avon.
The post offices in Vail and Avon are have also introduced a new service that will send people who pay for their mail boxes an e-mail or text when new mail is received. Kervin said that service will be handy for people who live in outlying areas, or those whose work schedules might make it inconvenient for them to make frequent trips to the post office.
Kervin said new services are part of a new approach he wants to take at Avon's post office.
"Avon calls itself the 'heart of the valley' and we're going to make sure the post office is the heart of Avon," Kervin said.
Parcel lockers have been repaired or replaced, Kervin said, and employees have had refresher courses in customer services. Kervin said he's added a person to the package pick-up window at busy times to shorten lines. And, he said, the post office is offering a "baker's dozen" - 13 months for the price of 12 - for anyone signing up for a paid post office box.
"We're trying to inject new energy here," Kervin said. "And we're doing a lot of painting and cleaning, too."
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.