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Aug 27, 2020
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An attack on the U.S. Postal Service is an attack on America’s small businesses.

While media attention on cuts made to the agency by President Donald Trump-appointee Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has focused on potential effects on the upcoming election, it’s important to note the effect these reductions will have on the health of our country’s small businesses.

Small businesses overwhelmingly depend on the Postal Service for their shipping, and in a world of online shopping, intensified by the pandemic, the USPS is even more important for small businesses. Indeed, many small businesses would go out of business if it weren’t for USPS.

“About the time Amazon got popular, I noticed my shipping rates with UPS and FedEx skyrocketed,” said Janice Slater, owner of the promotional advertising company Concepts in Advertising in Jacksonville, Oregon, “Then they added a charge for residential delivery, and there’s still an extra fuel surcharge even though gas prices went down. Amazon offers free shipping – I guess I’m subsidizing Amazon’s lower shipping rates.”

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That’s a feeling shared among many small business owners. Fortunately for Slater, as well for hundreds of thousands of other small businesses that ship goods, the USPS still offers a level playing ground.

“The Postal Service came out with these one-rate box with a two-day guarantee across the country. I started using the Postal Service much more than UPS or FedEx, and it was actually more convenient. My post office is close by and there are drop boxes," she added.

Postmaster DeJoy started removing many drop boxes around the country, but after social media backlash, he said the agency would suspend the operation until after the presidential election in November

Activist Rebecca Slisher, of Groveport, holds a sign while rallying with others during a Save the Post Office Rally on Saturday, August 22, 2020 in Whitehall, Ohio.
Activist Rebecca Slisher, of Groveport, holds a sign while rallying with others during a Save the Post Office Rally on Saturday, August 22, 2020 in … Show more

Slater noted she now asks suppliers to use USPS. She often has to pay the cost of shipping goods she receives, as well as goods she sells. “I received a sample of one pencil – one pencil! And the UPS delivery charge was $17.47.”

Slater took the time to compare the cost of sending a 25-pound box from her office in Oregon to a big customer in New York for a two-day delivery:

► USPS one-rate box: $21.10

► UPS two-day flat rate: $50

► FedEx two-day: $143.05

For a small business sending to/from Alaska or Hawaii, or sending a package to an overseas U.S. military base, it’s even worse.

“It’s not just that they’re (USPS) the least expensive,” said Alysha Cassis-Shaw, owner of the online vintage clothing store, Neutral Ground in Oakland, California. “On principle, we have a postal service that serves everyone regardless of where they live.”

"I’ve been using USPS since I started my business,” said Cassis-Shaw, who noted that her business shifted entirely online since COVID-19. She used to sell at events and fairs, as well.

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“I currently offer free shipping – obviously, some of that cost is built into the price (of the goods sold). If I had to go with someone other than USPS, I’d have to raise the price to my customer, making it even harder to compete with big online retailers and big-box stores. I’m not Amazon that can just absorb the higher prices (of other shipping companies). I know a lot of other small business owners and they’re in the same boat as I am. You’re being thwarted at every turn as a small business owner.”

Cassis-Shaw also said that USPS had become less reliable in the last two months.

DeJoy was appointed in June.
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