Home movies

A supervisor’s visit to a customer has led to $185,000 in new revenue for the Postal Service and has helped the business build a new source of income during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, Rolando Tuazon, customer services supervisor at the Waukesha, WI, Post Office, received a phone call from Marcus Theatres saying it had some packages that needed to be picked up.

After the letter carrier arrived at the company’s location, he called the Post Office and said he needed help.

Tuazon went to the location to assess the situation. He found that Marcus Theatres was mailing hundreds of packages.

The company’s cinemas in Wisconsin had been closed since March 24 when the state issued a stay-at-home order as a way to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The Milwaukee-based chain then decided to sell packages of popcorn and other treats to give their customers a “go to the movies” experience while confined at home and to provide itself a source of income while closed.

Tuazon and Postmaster Jeff Hansen spoke with company representatives, suggesting daily pickups and switching to Priority Mail, which would ensure the popcorn would arrive as fresh as possible.

“I explained the advantage of Priority Mail over Retail Ground,” said Tuazon. “Their packages now fly and move quicker. This will help generate a satisfied customer and continue customer sales for them.”

The services from USPS have proved valuable to the company, one of many businesses across the nation that are receiving help from the organization during the pandemic.

The Postal Service is also holding “Virtual Grow Your Business Day” events for small businesses and encouraging employees to find opportunities to assist companies that need special help with their shipping needs.

“Because of Priority Mail shipping getting the packages to the customer quickly, I don’t see this ending when we open the theaters again,” said Clint Wisialowski, Marcus Theatres’ sales vice president. “USPS has helped us create a whole new piece of business that will continue for the long haul.”

Inviting interpretations

One of the most important novelists of the Harlem Renaissance, Nella Larsen challenged conventional thinking, producing works that continue to invite interpretations from previously neglected points of view.

Larsen (1891-1964) is one of four African American literary figures who’ll be featured on Voices of the Harlem Renaissance, a stamp pane that USPS will release this week to honor one of the great artistic and literary movements in American history.

Larsen was born in Chicago. Her mother was from Denmark, and her father is believed to have been from the West Indies.

Larsen’s mother later married a white immigrant, and her new family apparently rejected Larsen, prompting her to cultivate the search for belonging and independence that characterized her life and work.

Before becoming a writer, Larsen worked as a nurse and a librarian, a job that led to her penning articles for an African American children’s magazine.

In 1928, Larsen published her debut novel, “Quicksand,” which tells the story of a mixed-race woman whose individuality and enthusiasm are stifled no matter which side of the color line she inhabits. With opening chapters based loosely on Larsen’s own life, “Quicksand” received praise for its objectivity and its focus on individuals rather than classes.

A second novel, “Passing,” was published in 1929 and also focuses on a mixed-race heroine. By looking at the risks and dangers of the phenomenon of “passing” as white and exploring the complex ways African Americans at the time both disapproved of it and condoned it, the novel offers a layered picture of racial perceptions that defies many of the standard notions of the time.

Larsen received a Guggenheim Fellowship and other prestigious awards for her work, but she eventually returned to her previous career as a nurse.

She died in New York City.

After decades of obscurity, Larsen’s novels were reprinted and taught in college courses in the early 1970s, prompting a reappraisal by scholars and critics.

By the late 1990s, she was again seen as an important author whose distinctive life and genre-defying fiction offer subtle but wrenching perspectives on gender and the complexity of race relations.

This is the first of four profiles of the African American literary figures who’ll be featured on the Voices of the Harlem Renaissance stamps. Tomorrow: Alain Locke.

Shabby to chic

The Postal Service is inviting customers to participate in Mailbox Improvement Week from May 17-23.

In line with spring cleaning, the annual campaign encourages customers on city, rural and contract delivery service routes to enhance the appearance of shabby mailboxes.

In addition to being physically appealing, tidy mailboxes help improve delivery and collection operations.

However, there are a few requirements.

For instance, all mailboxes must use delivery equipment approved by the Postmaster General. Boxes must also be fully operational, designed to protect the mail from weather, safe to use and large enough to support daily mail and package deliveries.

Postmasters must send Notice 209 to all rural and highway contract box delivery route customers to remind them of Mailbox Improvement Week. The notices can be ordered through eBuyPlus.

Postal Bulletin’s May 7 edition has more information.