The demise of most Saturday mail delivery got shrugs or measured grimaces from a random sampling of U.S. Postal Service customers and employees on Wednesday.
Customer Debra Messenger of St. Paul was the most pointed in her critique, calling the decision "rotten." She said, "You wait for your mail sometimes seven days, it's just good to know it could possibly come Saturday."
Regional USPS spokesman Pete Nowacki based in Minneapolis said most customers won't see a huge change. "The post office is going to be open the same hours. Post office boxes will still get mail. Packages will get delivered," he said.
As the postal service weighed changes the past few years, Nowacki said customers were most concerned about delays getting medication through the mail. "That's been taken care of. We're still going to be delivering packages," he said.
Also, there are no plans to close Minnesota post offices or lay off employees, he said. To the contrary, he said he's going ahead with plans to hire 400 new carrier assistants. The average age of postal workers in the area is 54, he said, "so we will have a lot of people retiring fairly soon."
The new hires won't all be full time or work on set schedules. "It gives us lots more flexibility," Nowacki said. The expectation is some of them will replace current carriers when they retire.
Most OK with it
Many of those stopping by the post office on Concordia Avenue in St. Paul on Wednesday sounded resigned to the change.
"It's nice to get it on Saturday, but if they can save money, it's OK," said Diane Brown, who lives in St. Paul. "I'm retired so it's easier for me to come during the week. It might be harder for people who work full time."
Carol Buche of St. Paul said she was fine with the changes as she wheeled two large packages up to a window on a dolly. "They should have been able to do this years ago. I can't believe they didn't have the ability to reduce their expenses," she said.
Buche said the change won't affect the business she owns conducting background screenings. "My clients can pay me on the weekdays. That's the only important mail I get," she said.
'A good way to save money'
Matt Kramer, president of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, said he had not received one phone call from businesses about the change because most of them aren't open on weekends. "Most businesses are concerned with Monday through Friday reliable, timely, efficient mail delivery and in that regard the post office is doing a wonderful job," he said.
Nick Brown was stopping by the post office to mail his wedding invitations. "I don't think it's a big deal. Overall it's probably a good way to save money," he said, adding that most of his Saturday mailings were insignificant -- except for the occasional Netflix, a mailed movie DVD.
"I grew up in northern Minnesota and sometimes the guy couldn't make it on Saturday up there," he said.
LeeAnn Murdock of Wyoming, however, was disappointed. "I like mail every day," she said.
Murdock said her mail box is a quarter mile from her house and she opens her mail before driving in. "I look right away. You never know when you're going to get a cool package," she said.
One person, however, wouldn't have minded a few more weekend cutbacks.
Pam Renollet runs a window at a St. Paul Post Office and often works on Saturday. "I would love it if they decided to close on Saturday, but it's not going to happen for us," she said.
Rochelle Olson • 651-925-5035 Twitter: @rochelleolson