To encourage more people to wear face coverings during the coronavirus pandemic, Elizabeth Dey started a part-time business last year selling fashionable masks and accessories that she makes herself.
The Chevy Chase, MD, resident relies on the Postal Service to help fulfill her orders, including printing labels at home and handing the packages to her letter carrier.
“USPS is convenient, and it helps me turn around orders quickly,” she said.
Dey and her company, Deysigns, are part of a start-up business boom that has become one of the unexpected outcomes of the pandemic.
Americans started 4.4 million businesses last year, up 24 percent from 2019, according to a study last month by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, an independent, nonpartisan research organization.
The reasons for the start-up surge are varied — some of the companies include side projects started by people during pandemic shutdowns — but the boom nonetheless represents an opportunity for the Postal Service, which is working to grow its business customer base.
Last year, for example, the organization introduced the USPS Loyalty Program, which allows businesses to earn credits that can be put toward future purchases of Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express products.
Other offerings include Every Door Direct Mail, which businesses can use to target consumers based on their location and other demographics, and Informed Delivery, which allows companies to promote their offerings through interactive content.
“The Postal Service can help entrepreneurs of every stripe, but especially those who want to use our affordable products and services to help get their start-ups off the ground,” said Mary Anderson, the organization’s small-business engagement director.
The USPS retail network is another resource for entrepreneurs like Shaunice Sasser, who considers the Post Office in her Atlanta neighborhood a lifeline.
When the pandemic threw Sasser a curveball last year, she turned to the local Post Office to ship orders for Brown Girls Stationery, the business she operates with her daughter, Kamaria.
“We had to pivot our business to offer products while customers were at home. We had to do what was necessary,” Sasser said.
In addition to the affordable and convenient shipping options, start-up business owners say they’re attracted to the Postal Service’s public-oriented mission.
Dey, whose full-time job is working as a nurse practitioner in a hospital’s trauma unit, said she likes doing business with USPS because its employees are frontline workers, too.
“The Postal Service is clearly working so, so hard,” she said. “I have nothing but respect for all they do.”
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