Press Club

Morning Notes

New signage for the soon-to-open Amazon Fresh store on Crystal Drive (photo courtesy David Johnston)

Post Office Naming Bill Introduced — “Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) today introduced legislation to rename the post office in Arlington on George Mason Drive (currently designated ‘Arlington Post Office’) after local letter carrier Jesus Collazos. Collazos immigrated to Northern Virginia from Colombia in 1978 and worked for 25 years as a USPS postal carrier in Arlington. He died of COVID-19 early in the pandemic.” [Press Release]

Police Hosting Summer Camps — “As part of our department’s key initiative of Community Engagement, the Youth Outreach Unit (YOU) works to proactively engage youth in Arlington through community-based outreach strategies. YOU Officers are excited to offer three camps focused on education, relationship-building and positive youth development while ensuring participants enjoy a fun-filled and safe summer.” [ACPD]

Join the Press Club — ARLnow wants to invest more in our local reporting and audience engagement, but we need your help to make it happen. Support local journalism by joining the ARLnow Press Club. As a bonus, you’ll also get our exclusive Early Morning Notes email, with a 3 a.m. “early edition” of this post and a preview of the stories we’re planning to cover that day, plus an early look at some of our feature stories. [ARLnow]

It’s Wednesday — Sunny in the morning, then becoming cloudy in the afternoon before rain overnight. High of 68 and low of 44. Sunrise at 7:19 am and sunset at 7:18 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Lonely job (Courtesy of Jeff Vincent/Flickr)

Columbia Pike Optician Robbed — “Security camera video captured the tense moments when a group of thieves robbed an Arlington County store owned by a man known in the community for his charity work… The five suspects take hammers to the cases and fill bags with Cartier, Dior and Gucci frames, about $60,000 of merchandise.” [NBC4]

Mail Delays Frustrate Residents — “Residents across the D.C. region have become increasingly frustrated over delays in mail deliveries, with last week’s snowstorms, a spike in coronavirus cases and long-standing problems with the U.S. Postal Service contributing to a breakdown in services… Arlington resident Diana Wahl said she received no mail between Dec. 27 and Jan. 9. She finally received some mail on Monday and Tuesday, but older mail.” [Washington Post]

Fmr. Local Prosecutor Joins New AG’s Office — “From the job title, it doesn’t look as if [former Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo] Stamos’s primary role is going to be to keep an eye on those prosecutors. But multi-tasking is the way of the world these days, and by picking her, Miyares certainly poked his thumb in the eye of some of the Northern Virginia chief prosecutors.” [Sun Gazette]

Some Local Libraries Closed — “Due to Covid-19 related staffing shortages, Cherrydale and Glencarlyn Libraries will be closed Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 13 – 16. All library locations are closed Monday, Jan. 17 for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.” [Arlington Public Library]

Winter Storm PSA from ACPD — From the Arlington County Police Department: “With the risk of another winter storm on the horizon, now is a good time to register for Arlington Alert to receive information on major emergencies, weather, traffic disruptions and transit delays in Arlington County.” [Twitter]

Arlington Loses Delegate on New Maps — “He’s been redistricted out of Arlington, but Del. Rip Sullivan said he will always consider the community a second political home.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Thursday — Today will have increasing clouds, with a high near 46. Sunrise at 7:25 a.m. and sunset at 5:09 p.m. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny, with a high near 44. North wind 8 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. [Weather.gov]

Photo courtesy of Jeff Vincent/Flickr

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Morning Notes

Lee Highway Planning Update — “Arlington county staff have produced different future land use scenarios for five sections, or neighborhood areas, of the [Lee Highway] corridor. These scenarios offer different visions for the route that note anticipated intensity and uses of land as well as potential future transportation and public space improvements. Ultimately, the initiative will culminate in an area plan that will guide future development along the corridor over the next 30 years.” [GGWash]

Postal Flexibility for Route 29 — “To borrow from a phrase of Barack Obama: If you like your Lee Highway address, you can keep your Lee Highway address. Arlington County officials say they do not expect the pending renaming of the 5.2-mile stretch of U.S. Route 29 in the county to impact delivery of mail addressed to the old ‘Lee Highway’ address when the roadway becomes ‘Langston Boulevard.'” [InsideNova]

Blood Drive in Courthouse Today — “Fire Works American Pizzeria and Bar… is working with INOVA Blood Donor Services to host an Arlington Community Blood Drive with an INOVA Bloodmobile, which will be located near the intersection of Clarendon Boulevard and North Adams Street, on Monday, June 21, 2021, from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.” [Press Release]

A-SPAN Buys Westover Apartments — “This eight-unit apartment building, originally built in the 1940s for Pentagon workers, looks modest. But it’s the centerpiece of an ambitious pilot program from the Arlington-based non-profit A-SPAN. ‘This is for people who have too many housing barriers, [meaning] felonies, no credit, no rental history, immigration status,’ says A-SPAN’s director of development Scott Miller.” [DCist]

Police Pride Event at Freddie’s — “In recognition of Pride Month and the significant contributions of Arlington’s LGBTQ+ communities, the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) will host Pride with the Police… on Friday, June 25.” [Arlington County]

Last Week: Protest Outside Boeing HQ — “Supporters of Palestine demonstrate outside of Boeing’s office building in Crystal City, 6/16/21.” [Instagram]

Trump Official Trying to Sell D.C. Condo — “The condo was then taken off the market, and re-listed in April at the same price. In mid-May, the listing was withdrawn for a second time, and it remains off the market. [Stephen] Miller, meanwhile, has reportedly moved to Arlington with his wife, Katie Miller, another former Trump administration official.” [Washingtonian]

Reminder: This Week’s Arlies Vote — There’s one day left to vote for your favorite Arlington food truck. [ARLnow]

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Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is looking to rename the post office on N. George Mason Drive after Jesus Collazos, a beloved postal worker who died of the coronavirus.

Collazos left the poor neighborhood of his childhood, Barrio Obrero in Columbia, for the U.S. in the 1980s. He settled in Arlington with his wife, where he delivered mail for 25 years and they raised a family, the Washington Post reported last year. He was known for responding to letters to Santa Claus and for his friendly presence.

Collazos retired in 2019, and in 2020, was diagnosed with lymphoma. Before treatment could begin, he died of COVID-19 at 67.

“The Congressman found the story of Mr. Collazos’ career and tragic death during the pandemic extremely compelling, and given his service as a mail carrier it made natural sense to try to rename a postal facility in his honor,” said Aaron Fritschner, the communications director for Beyer’s office.

The post office at 2200 N. George Mason Drive serves the 22207 zip code. Beyer’s office is currently seeking local input, including discussions with Arlington County and nearby civic groups, Fritschner said. So far, the local feedback has been “very positive.”

Yorktown Civic Association President and County Board candidate Mike Cantwell said his community’s support for renaming the post office on Nextdoor was “overwhelming.”

“I personally didn’t know him and I just wanted to say after reading all those comments, I fully support renaming the post office for him,” Cantwell said. “It’s amazing to see one person so beloved by the community.”

On Nextdoor, residents remember Collazos for the way he went the extra mile to help elderly residents and always knew someone who could help with a home improvement project. They also were overwhelmingly supportive of the renaming.

“Jesus Collazos was a neighbor,” said one resident of the Leeway Overlee neighborhood. “We called him the ‘Mayor of 24th Street.’ Sorely missed and it would be such a great tribute to his contributions to our community to name a post office in honor of him.”

A Tara-Leeway Heights resident recalled how Collazos helped her mother later in life. He came up to the door, knocked and opened it, announcing himself and putting the mail on the TV stand.

“My mom thought so highly of him,” she said. “He just did stuff like that. He was a person who really ‘saw’ those around him.”

Another poster from Tara-Leeway Heights said Collazos was well-connected in Arlington.

“If we needed the name of someone to help with anything having to do with the house, he knew someone,” the poster said. “He made us all feel like we were his friends. We miss him terribly. He made such a positive impact on everyone he met.”

Another commenter recalled that when Collazos developed lymphoma, neighbors inscribed their well-wishes and prayers on a canvas, which “was carried and placed in front of his home.”

Some residents said the post office may not live up to Collazos’ legacy. The building has been plagued by undelivered and missing mail and packages, as well as some reported instances of stolen mail.

“I would hate to see a taint on his memory for ignored and continued issues at this particular [post office],” said a Yorktown poster.

But Cantwell said if the renaming goes through, there will be a big spotlight on the post office.

“Only good things happen when you have a big spotlight on something like this,” he said.

Collazos also delivered mail in the 22205 zip code, but that post office is already named for Preston King, a WWII fallen soldier, Cantwell said.

Renaming the N. George Mason Drive post office will require federal legislation.

“The renaming of federal buildings is a function of Congress, so the next step here would be legislation offered in Congress,” said Fritschner.

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Many locals haven’t been getting their mail in a timely fashion recently and Virginia’s U.S. Senators are deeply concerned.

Yesterday (Feb. 1), Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to the U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy asking why there has been such considerable delays on folks getting their mail.

“We have heard from hundreds of our constituents that recount unacceptable delays in the delivery of everything from Christmas and birthday cards to mail-order medications and credit card bills,” wrote the Senators. “Furthermore, we seek answers about operational decisions and other circumstances that have contributed to such delays and what is being done to prevent future failures.”

Additionally, they asked for the publishing of data about the number of postal workers that have contracted COVID-19 and expediting the delivery of mail-order medications.

The lawmakers note that they believe policy changes implemented this past summer by DeJoy could be contributing.

There was local pushback about these policies, including a rally outside of the Westover post office on Washington Blvd.

When initially calling out these changes — also in a letter — the Senators were then promised that these cost-cutting measures would not be implemented until after the November presidential election.

However, even after the election, these implemented changes have caused a significant delay in mail getting to recipients, particularly to those in the Capitol region, according to court filings.

From Dec. 19 to 31, according to statistics in the filings that the Senators cited in their letter, Northern Virginia residents received less than half of their first class mail on-time. While the holiday crush is surely to be a contributing factor, rates started dropping in mid-September.

This is a dramatic drop-off from even the week of Sept. 5 when residents were getting 88.5% of their first class mail. Even earlier in the pandemic — mid-March through July — about 91% of first class mail was getting to locals in a timely fashion.

The Senators wrote that they have heard from constituents that mail is continually getting stuck at the USPS Processing and Distribution Center in Richmond, sometimes for weeks at a time.

A recent audit by the USPS Inspector General revealed that the Richmond distribution center had the fourth-highest late trip rate of any in the country from July 1 to Sept. 30.

Additionally, from Nov. 1 to Nov. 19, the center underestimated incoming mail volume by two-thirds.

Warner and Kaine blame insufficient staffing and capacity at the distribution center.

“We understand this is likely due to staffing shortages but implore you to create additional contingency plans to ensure a particular delivery route does not miss its mail for days at a time simply because its letter carrier is out sick,” they wrote.

Concluding the letter, Warner and Kaine urge DeJoy to “reverse all operational and organizational changes that have contributed to substantial mail delays.”

This isn’t the only bit of Arlington mail news in recent months. In October, a postal inspector was seen checking drop-off mailboxes at the N. George Mason Drive post office amidst complaints of missing and stolen mail.

The entire letter sent by Sens. Warner and Kaine is below.

Read More

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A U.S. Postal Inspector was seen inspecting the drop-off mailboxes outside of the N. George Mason Drive Post Office Tuesday, as resident complaints about missing and stolen mail continue.

The mailboxes were reportedly taped off after the inspector’s visit Tuesday morning, which was witnessed by an ARLnow editor. A sign said the mailboxes were “out of order.”

A Nextdoor post about it quickly garnered numerous replies.

“Too many problems with mail being stolen!” said one reply. “This has been going on for years, and I’m glad they’ve finally closed the boxes.”

“NEVER use the George Mason Post Office,” said another. “They’ve been riddled with problems for a long time.”

“As others have said, there has been mail theft there (particularly with the drop box) for nearly a year,” said yet another. “I am happy they finally closed off the box because I still see reports here about mail theft 9 months after our outgoing mail was stolen.”

Other complaints about the post office in the thread — and in dozens of replies to a similar Nextdoor post from July — include missing and undelivered mail.

ARLnow is aware of at least three reports of mail stolen from the boxes outside the post office at 2200 N. George Mason Drive, which serves the 22207 zip code, over the past year or so.

In one case, a tipster said he or she had a thief attempt to cash or deposit more than $35,000 in checks from a business account, though the fraud was caught by the bank before losses were incurred. The incident happened after business mail was dropped off at one of the mailboxes outside.

On Nextdoor, another resident said a thief “took $5,000 out of my IRA account” by altering a $100 check written to a charity, which was deposited “in one of the two drive-by mailboxes outside the post office on George Mason Drive.”

Yet another Nextdoor poster said he also had a check “diverted from this post office… that someone forged and attempted to cash.”

Other residents complained about a lack of information about what’s going on, despite numerous complaints filed with the U.S. Postal Service and Arlington County.

“As far as I know, there has been no communication to the public, which I personally find ethically negligent,” said one resident.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service did not respond to an inquiry from ARLnow in January. Contacted again this week for more information, a spokesman would only confirm that ARLnow’s photo depicted a postal inspection officer at work.

“I can confirm the individual in the photograph is a US Postal Inspector, working hard to ensure the safety of the US Mail,” Michael Martel, Public Information Officer for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, wrote. “Postal Inspectors have access to USPS infrastructure for a variety of reasons including preventative security measures and during the course of an investigation.”

“If anyone suspects their mail has been stolen, or see suspicious activity near a Post Office or blue collection box, they can report it to Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455,” Martel added.

A flyer with mail security tips, provided by Martel, advises postal customers to “use the letter slots inside your Post Office for your mail, or hand it to a letter carrier,” and to “pick up your mail promptly after delivery… don’t leave it in your mailbox overnight.”

Residents on Nextdoor said even employees of the post office appeared to be in the dark this week.

“When I went in to ask what’s going on, my favorite clerk… was very frustrated and said they were not getting answers themselves,” said one resident.

“Something’s rotten in Denmark at the George Mason Post Office,” said another.

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Morning Notes

Protest Outside Westover Post Office — About 15 protesters held a “Save the U.S. Postal Service” rally outside the Post Office at 5877 Washington Blvd in Westover yesterday. The two-hour lunchtime demonstration was organized as part of the American Postal Worker Union National Day of Action. [@KalinaNewman/Twitter]

Historic Review Board Likes Shirlington Plan — “The Arlington County government’s historic-preservation advisory body seems generally satisfied that retention of historic features will be seen as an important component of the redevelopment of the Village at Shirlington. In particular, the low-slung storefronts along Campbell Avenue are expected to be protected from the wrecking ball, even as taller and more dense development likely will be allowed immediately behind them.” [InsideNova]

New BBQ Restaurant Opens Patio — “Smokecraft Modern Barbecue is excited to debut its much-anticipated patio, now open daily for outdoor dining and drinking. Arlington residents and visitors can now enjoy Smokecraft’s award-winning barbecue outside on a socially distant patio, consisting of 38 seats.” [Press Release]

TTT in Clarendon to Host Virtual DJUpdated at 9:30 a.m. — “Beginning Friday, September 4… TTT (Tacos, Tortas & Tequila) known for its casual Mexican-influenced fare is adding an exciting bit of fun on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons with virtual DJs. Guests dining on the first floor and on the third floor TTT Rooftop, which seats 82 and offers wonderful views on the city, will enjoy watching and listening to live streaming DJ performances via large screen projection.” [Press Release]

Family Pushing for Arlington House Change — “Descendants of Charles Syphax have been courting lawmakers for the past few months to make the change, said Syphax family historian Steve Hammond, who lives in Sterling, Va. The family’s effort is motivated as much by a desire to accurately honor the full history of the property and the enslaved people who lived there as it is by any antipathy toward Lee.” [Washington Post]

Nearby: Back to School in Falls Church — Students have started the fall semester, virtually, in Falls Church. A TV news segment shows teachers conducting their virtual classes from their actual, physical classrooms. [NBC 4]

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Morning Notes

USPS Decides to Relocate Rosslyn Post Office — “The U.S. Postal Service will relocate the Rosslyn Station Post Office, located at 1101 Wilson Blvd, to a yet-to-be-determined location as close as reasonably possible to the current site.” [USPS]

Netherlands Carillon to Go Quiet, Temporarily — “Bells that have been ringing high atop an Arlington hill for nearly 60 years will soon go temporarily silent as they embark on a journey thousands of miles long… The 50 bells will be taken down by crane and sent by ship to a foundry in the Netherlands, where they will be cleaned and retuned.” [WJLA]

New Memorial Bridge Lane Closures — “Work is moving ahead on the Arlington Memorial Bridge, which means that the overnight traffic pattern will change to accommodate construction lanes. Starting on Monday, March 11, the National Park Service will reduce the number of lanes that drivers can access from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m.” [WTOP]

Ballston Tech Company Acquired — “Comcast today announced it has acquired BluVector, a company that uses advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide cybersecurity protection to companies and government agencies.” [BluVector]

‘Pizza With Police’ Event Planned — “Pizza with the Police, similar to the popular Coffee with a Cop series, is an informal event designed for Arlington’s residential and business communities to meet and interact with members of the police department, ask questions, discuss their public safety concerns and get to know their neighbors.” [Arlington County]

Amazon VP Tweets from Crystal City — “Delicious lunch at Federico Ristorante Italiano in #CrystalCity! It was fun to hang out with @FreddieFlamingo and see one of the great local restaurants that the future #AmazonHQ2 employees will be able to enjoy very soon!” [Twitter]

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The Rosslyn Post Office could soon be on the move.

The U.S. Postal Service is proposing relocating its office in a building at 1101 Wilson Blvd elsewhere in the neighborhood.

Officials have yet to identify a new spot for the post office, but they hope to move it to “a yet-to-be-determined location as close as reasonably possible to the current site,” according to a news release.

The USPS says that, if it approves such a change, “there would be no change to post office box numbers or ZIP codes.”

A Postal Service spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what prompted the USPS to consider a relocation.

However, the USPS is planning a public meeting to discuss the proposal tomorrow night (Wednesday) at 5 p.m. at 1911 N. Fort Myer Drive. The Postal Service will then accept written comments for the next 30 days following that gathering.

Anyone interested in submitting them can send them to:

Richard Hancock
Real Estate Specialist
U.S. Postal Service
PO Box 27497
Greensboro, NC 27498-1103
[email protected]

USPS also operates several other post offices near the Rosslyn location, including ones in Clarendon, Court House and at Fort Myer.

Photo via Google Maps 

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Morning Notes

Hanukkah celebration in Clarendon 12/28/16

Struggling Skyline Sold — Vornado has taken its properties in Skyline off of its balance sheet after the 2.6 million-square-foot, half-vacant complex sold at a foreclosure auction last week. The cancelled Columbia Pike streetcar project would have run to Skyline, with Fairfax County set to pay 20 percent of the project’s cost. [Washington Business Journal]

More on ‘Pop-Up’ Hotel — The inauguration will be the big test for WhyHotel, the “pop-up” hotel in the new Bartlett apartment building in Pentagon City. Developer Vornado sees this as an experiment that could yield temporary revenue while a building is leased up. Arlington County planning commissioner Erik Gutshall says the county could benefit from additional tax revenue and a more lively streetscape. [Washington Post]

Arlington = NYE Destination? — Travelers coming to the D.C. area for New Year’s Eve should consider staying in Arlington due to its proximity to the District and lower hotel rates, says an article on “last minute deals for New Year’s Eve hotels.” [Travel + Leisure]

Transracial Adoption in Arlington — Arlington is “a fantastic community in which to raise a transracially blended family,” says the father of (now grown) adopted children from Vietnam, Sri Lanka and India. [Arlington Magazine]

Clarendon Post Office Murals — A local man has written a 44-page book on the artist who painted seven New Deal-era murals in the Clarendon post office. [Washington Post]

Reporting Issues to the County — Arlington County is reminding residents that they can report out-of-sync traffic signals, crosswalks with broken buttons and other non-emergency service requests via an online form. [Twitter]

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Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

The next time you get direct marketing mail don’t be so quick to throw it out without at least taking a look. Consider that Lee Garvey and the employees at Click2Mail may have been the people working hard to get the materials into your mailbox.

Lee Garvey, founder of Click2MailGarvey worked for years at the U.S. Postal Service, starting as a mail carrier in Arlington and moving into other roles, before founding Click2Mail in 2004. His time as a mail carrier exposed him to a lot of local customers who encountered the same problem: They easily could send out a few letters at a time but had difficulty handling large groups of mail.

So Garvey launched a service to make it easier.

“If you’re just mailing five or 10 letters, it’s easy. But when you get into the higher numbers you have to have a system and a postage meter and all that stuff. So I set out to create an online system,” Garvey says. “I’ve experienced the problems we solve for our customers and the way I got started was identifying a problem and finding a way to solve it.”

The small business digitally creates many types of marketing mail, such as when a business sends out hundreds of postcards to advertise a promotion. Click2Mail also can personalize communications so that a car dealer, for example, can send a letter that personally addresses a customer and mentions the type of car the customer recently purchased. Another service is to offer quick turnarounds for “just in time” communications, which tend to be more time sensitive. Garvey says that if a customer submits a digital file by 8 p.m. on a weekday, Click2Mail often can send out personalized notifications as quickly as the next day for a fraction of what such a service used to cost.

“The sender of the postal mail doesn’t have to do anything. They send to us their assets and documents and mailing lists and we take care of the rest,” Garvey says.

Garvey launched Click2Mail while still working at the Postal Service. USPS officially ran it for three years but then decided not to oversee the service anymore. Around that time, Garvey ended up leaving the Postal Service and branched off Click2Mail as a separate entity. The business still partners with USPS, among others, and can be accessed both through its own website and through the Postal Service’s.

Click2Mail employees prepare for a video conferenceClick2Mail has an office in Clarendon and 15 employees who work throughout the United States. Garvey is a huge believer in allowing staff to work remotely at least a couple days a week — even the local employees — and relying on video conferencing for staff collaboration. He says the concept is “one of the benefits of having a largely digital business.”

The Click2Mail team has experienced ups and downs with the fluctuating economy and people’s changing desires to send physical mail, but it currently is in the process of expansion. The business is looking to hire new employees and is revamping its website. Click2Mail has also gained positive exposure thanks recent recognition from Entrepreneur as number 203 on the magazine’s list of the 360 best and most well-rounded small businesses in America.

“We’re very happy with the place where we are and we’re growing,” Garvey says.

Another positive industry trend, Garvey notes, is one that surprises many people: Traditional mail marketing and advertising is back on the rise.

“Businesses that years ago decided that they were going to go all digital and start sending everything by email… they discovered that the level of attention that’s paid to that type of thing is shrinking,” Garvey says. “People are throwing money at the digital world and discovering it’s not as effective as it used to be and the effectiveness of direct mail is increasing.”

Part of that shift may be due to an “everything old is new again” attitude and a “snail mail” revival thanks to millennials. Garvey explains that each year the Postal Service does a household survey and within the last year “they discovered that millennials are very enthusiastic about physical mail.”

But Garvey knows that going about direct mailing completely in an old school fashion isn’t sustainable in the long term. That’s why Click2Mail has continuously updated and modernized its services. It taps into the trend of companies integrating outsourced microservices.

“We have been following closely and adapting our services to that type of model,” Garvey says. “It’s an old thing in a lot of people’s minds, the idea of postal mail. But we’re doing it in a very modern, very technologically savvy way that gives people the opportunity to create mail in a ‘just in time’ fashion that you never could have imagined just a few years ago.”

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