In this week’s episode, I’ve spent time with Susanne Hudacek of Stop N Mail in Melbourne, Fl. If you’re planning on shipping gifts this holiday season, you’ll find a wealth of information in this episode. We also discuss the benefits of using a professional mailbox location to safely get packages, and how as a small business service can help you.
Susanne is also doing a few novel things in the business moving beyond basic gifts like coffee cups to working as a destination gift store and also a small art gallery displaying the works of local artists.
Listen to my Interview with Susanne Hudacek
Images and Links from my Interview with Susanne Hudacek
Takeaways from my Interview with Susanne Hudacek
If you’re planning on shipping packages for the holidays, shop and ship early.
If you are declaring a value for insurance purposes, make sure you have proof of the value and also that it was packed to shipper’s standards. I’ve had a little experience with this one and learned how important it was to have high value items professionally packed.
If you need a professional mailbox, take advantage of both the great rates and the added services of Stop N Mail.
Full Transcript of my Interview with Susanne Hudacek
Kim: 00:00 You’re listening to Space Coast Stories, a podcast with interviews and stories from people and businesses on Florida’s Space Coast. I’m your host, Kim Shivler. Thanks for joining me.
Kim: 00:15 Hey everybody on the Space Coast. Welcome back to Space Coast stories. I’m your host Kim Shivler, and this week I’m interviewing Susanne Hudacek about her package and ship business. Now, if you’ve never used a mailbox, place, a pack and ship place, you’re missing out. I have had one for years actually. And if you’re a small business owner, unless you actually have a formal office to go to, and even then is something you really need to consider. Welcome Susanne.
Susanne: 00:48 Hello.
Kim: 00:49 Now this is a little bit newer business for you, correct?
Susanne: 00:52 Yes. I bought the business January first of 2018, so I’m almost one year into this journey.
Kim: 01:01 And how’s the year been?
Susanne: 01:03 Fabulous. Fabulous. A lot of fun. Um, I’m making money, I’m having fun. What else?
Kim: 01:09 And that doesn’t always happen when you first buy a business. So that’s always very nice to. Yes, yes. And tell us, let’s start with just the traditional services that a mailbox place offers for people.
Susanne: 01:22 Okay. So, um, I do have mailboxes, some of my mailboxes are private mailboxes for Mr and Mrs. or just Miss or Mister. Um, and then I also have business mailboxes. They serve as a commercial address. You can’t run certain businesses out of your home. You need a commercial address. That’s where my service comes in. Um, I also offer UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the postal service for all kinds of shipping needs.
Kim: 01:55 And that means not just shipping but they can actually deliver to you. Correct. So if I have my business address there and someone needs to send a FedEx, I can have it sent right there.
Susanne: 02:06 Yes. Yes. And it’s safe and sound from the Porch Pirates that are about to come upon us with the, with the busy season, with the holiday season when a lot of people order online and if they end up on your porch they might not be too safe.
Susanne: 02:24 So it’s always good to have a mailbox where your packages are safe and sound until you pick them up.
Kim: 02:30 In that case, even we’re looking at the, the personal side. A lot of times when we have this busy season and actually I order so much online, that’s what I’ve been doing for a long time and I’ve been lucky for the most part, but one time I did have, when we were getting ready to move, I had my cat carriers delivered and they were not there when I opened the door. Now the sad part with this one was I actually was home. They didn’t knock on the door, they just left them. I was waiting for them, but we got them all back and everything was fine. Go ahead, but that’s a good idea for personal. If you’re going to get a lot of packages here at the end of the year because you’re ordering things are people are sending things to you. You might want to consider this and you actually have a special.
Susanne: 03:18 Yes, I do have a special just for the holiday seasons. Now we’re in November, so November, December, it’s $30 for those two months plus tax and you can have your short term mailbox just for the holiday season. That’s a great idea and then you can bring the packages you’re shipping out. Yes, and when you can help them take care of that. Also, a lot of my customers are coming in with the bags of m wrapped Christmas gifts and I do all the packaging and the shipping. I also ship rocking chairs, French horns, old clocks, those clocks that you put on the mantle and anything that needs to go somewhere else. I do all the packaging. I make sure that it’s packaged safe and sound and gets there in one piece and that’s something I think a lot of people don’t know.
Kim: 04:12 I appreciate that. You mentioned you package it safe and sound. Yes. Even if you buy insurance, if you haven’t packed something to the specifications of a shipper, they don’t cover it isn’t that correct?
Susanne: 04:28 Yes, so and you actually need to, when you get a package, you have to open it. If anything is broken, then you should keep the packaging because they are asking for a picture of the packaging to see if it was professionally packed or not and based on that, yes, they can refuse your claim. So good advice is to use a professional pack or if you have something in particular that’s high value.
Susanne: 04:56 High value or if it has sentimental value or something like that that you really want to get there in one piece, you know? Yes, and sometimes when you package things like that, they go in a bigger box because there’s more packaging material around it and it will be a little bit more expensive but it will get there in one piece.
Susanne: 05:18 It doesn’t serve you to save on the shipping and then it’s broken when it gets there because it wasn’t packed professionally or with enough padding around it.
Kim: 05:29 And if for some reason it doesn’t get there safe, you are at least covered, then with the insurance, I sold at one point a very expensive photograph and it definitely had it professionally packed because even if it hadn’t gotten to the person I sold it to, the money value would have been covered for right. And every once in a while, even with everything being professionally packed, something gets broken, right?
Susanne: 05:54 Right. And um, the thing with the insurance, it’s not an insurance in and of itself, you declare a value. The difference is, I’m not an insurance broker, I can’t sell you insurance. You can declare a value and you have to be the one that proves that it is actually worth that much.
Susanne: 06:14 So you either have the original invoice or you can go online and say, hey, this is what was in there, this is what it’s worth, but it’s up to you to prove the value of your shipment. So that’s another thing to keep in mind.
Kim: 06:29 Very good details. Yes. In that case then would the bill of sale work, so if absolutely sold this, I sold it at a nice profit, but I had the bill of sale for what I have sold it for us. That would be, would be. Okay. Excellent. These are little details that people don’t realize as they are shipping. I think it’s something we take for granted a lot of times that. Yeah, I would just package it up. And the more online shopping we do, the more ubiquitous that becomes – shipping. Yes, absolutely. So we’ve covered some of the specifics we need to know with shipping if someone wants to come in and get this temporary mailbox or even a longer term mailbox, there are some pieces of identification, some details we need to make sure are covered when they get there.
Susanne: 07:17 Yes. Um, so you need one government issued photo id, which is your driver’s license or your passport or your military id, that kind of thing. And then you need a secondary. And um, there is a list of things that are um, accepted like your voter registration, your vehicle insurance. Um, and all of those things that I need in order for you to get, um, a mailbox, there’s a form that you have to fill out that’s from the postal service. This form gets then faxed to the postal service so that they know that your new address is, um, the mailbox and the driver’s license, passport, they cannot be expired or anything like that. They need to be current.
Kim: 08:13 That makes sense. And it, credit cards don’t count. Correct.
Susanne: 08:16 They used to but it’s not allowed anymore. So No, a credit card doesn’t do it.
Kim: 08:22 And I know this piece because I’ve been in my office, I still have one in south Florida from when I lived there and we weren’t sure how long we were going to be here.
Kim: 08:32 Now we’re transitioning it up. But yeah, made sense to keep everything there for the time. And I was in one day and somebody was trying to, to get one and they were explaining no, the credit cards that don’t cut it right now.
Susanne: 08:43 No, not anymore. But on that form that you have to fill out, there’s um, in detail which identifications are acceptable and which are not.
Kim: 08:54 Now, if a business owner, you actually, and this might be good for personal too, but particularly I find as a business person, you have some bonus services when people have mailboxes with you, like notary services.
Susanne: 09:07 Yes. For my mailbox customers, you get, um, the notary services for free. I’ll text you when, uh, when you receive a package, when you receive a check or if you tell me I’m waiting for this piece of mail, I will text you, hey, that letter that you were looking for is an.
Susanne: 09:24 And my customers appreciate that because they don’t have to come in all the time and check their mailbox. They know if something important to us there, I will let them know. And that makes their life a whole lot easier.
Kim: 09:36 That’s very helpful because if we’re entrepreneurs, we usually are strong on time. Yes, we are out doing what we need to do for the business. Yes. And that doesn’t always need to be checking the mailbox or in your case again, I’ve been in a lot of mailbox places, ups, stores, etc. You’ve elevated your shop quite a bit. So share some of that with us.
Susanne: 10:01 Okay. What I did is, uh, when I bought the business, I sorted out a lot of things. I took out a lot of things I painted, I made it look very appealing and I ended up with is one big wall that kind of looked too big and blah.
Susanne: 10:18 And so I decided to offer that wall to artists to exhibit their paintings so they can sell them there. And right now I have a local watercolor artist and my store, the paintings are beautiful. We have about 10 of them. For me it’s fabulous because I get to look at beautiful art and she has sold two paintings so far and she’s very happy and at the beginning of the exhibit we had a little mingle with the artists. We had some wine and some small snacks and it was fun. It was a real, real nice evening. So my goal for 2019 is to have four different artists out there for three months at a time. I have a new artist for January through March already. Very excited. she brought two paintings with her. She’s doing acrylics, so totally different from what I have right now. And it is just fantastic.
Susanne: 11:17 That’s not necessarily what you look for in a pack and ship business, but you know, why not just be an individual?
Kim: 11:25 Well, it’s a nice way to have a wind when you’re helping other entrepreneur. She’s helping you with beautiful art on the laws. Yes. Yes. That’s wonderful. When I had a shop many years ago in a completely different industry, I did the same. I had a friend who was an artist and she did all the art for me and then we sold them. Yeah, we sold them. Was very sad sometimes to sell one of my favorite pieces. Yes. One of my favorite pieces. sold already like okay. But it’s all good. It’s all good. Excellent. And who is your current artist? My current artist is Victoria Leon. She grew up in Barcelona. She grew up here. Dad is from Puerto Rico, mom is from Spain.
Susanne: 12:10 She is a multicultural, interesting person who, who uh, she’s a good friend of mine and she’s just fantastic. So when I asked her, I said, would you be interested in? She said, oh yes, yes, I would like to. Lovely.
Kim: 12:30 So everybody you’ve got just a few weeks left because we’re coming to the end of the year and she’ll have the new artist in January, so we’re going to have links to the shop and all that information in the show notes. Okay. So that people can stop by and check out the art. Yes, absolutely. And if somebody is interested in, you mentioned having, as you launch these artists exhibits, having little events, et cetera, if someone’s interested in finding out about that, where would they go?
Susanne: 13:03 They will go to my Facebook page StopnmailMelbourne https://www.facebook.com/stopnmailmelbourne. And um, that’s where I announced the new things. That’s also where I feature the paintings one at a time. There’s some pictures of the last mingle with the artists. So it’s, it’s quite interesting there. So that’s where you get the information.
Kim: 13:22 Wonderful. We will again, everybody, you know that we always have the links and the full transcript on the website page to help you find Susanne much faster. You also have gifts.
Susanne: 13:35 I do have gifts. Um, I do have also birthday cards and, and the regular cards with the, with the gifts now for the holiday seasons, I will have some new things in some very interesting things, uh, that you may not get somewhere else, so just come in and um, but I also have the usual coffee cups and things like that. So yeah.
Kim: 13:55 So come on in and check for some unique gift items for those people that are always hard to buy for her.
Susanne: 14:02 Yes. Yes, exactly. That’s one of my goals being a destination for the unusual gift from the paintings through everything else that is for sale, small items to big items and then being able to take care of the rest of it.
Kim: 14:18 Yeah. It gets shipped this. Yes, exactly. Now Suzanne, do you have any specific recommendations for people? As we come into the holidays things that they should think of that you can help them with that are extra special?
Susanne: 14:34 Yes. One thing is by early ship early and enjoy the holidays because inevitably people Will come to the store at the very last mInute and wanted one their gifts to get there for the for Christmas, for the holidays and stuff like that, and sometimes that that is just not doable because there is millions and millions of packages that are going to be shipped. Now officially the last day that all the shippers and the postal service guarantee that your package will get there is December 14th. I would challenge that. The postal service, especially, will deliver Christmas gifts till January. We know that that is happening every single year, so please, please, please come in at the beginning of December, get it done and enjoy the holidays.
Susanne: 15:33 Don’t be frazzled or anything like that because it’s. It’s the holidays. You should enjoy it. You should be Merry and, all of that and so ship, buy early ship early and enjoy the holidays.
Kim: 15:50 That’s some of the best advice I’ve ever heard and you have to consider not just the, the aspect of when they guarantee It, right. We don’t maybe feel the effects as much here in Florida, but winter storms can be coming through.
Susanne: 16:05 Yes. And when there’s a winter storm, those guarantees stop. I have noticed, yes and no. You will not receive a refund due to the weather because fedex, ups and the postal service can’t do anything about the weather. They have to deal with that. so, um, yeah, that’s something else to keep in mind. We live in, In Florida, we don’t consider snow storms and all of that. So yeah, that’s part of part of the issue when we’re shipping to our family up north.
Kim: 16:36 We need to keep that in mind. So great advice. You can still get out there on Black Friday if you’re one of those Black Friday shoppers, buy everything and then ship it the next couple of days. Absolutely. Yes. You’ll be good. So then tell us where your store is located.
Susanne: 16:55 My store Stop N Mail is located at 221 West Hibiscus Boulevard. That’s across from the Space Coast Credit Union at the corner of Hibiscus and Airport boulevard. So I’m three doors down from pizza hut, um, and that in that little strip mall. Yeah.
Kim: 17:14 And next to one of my favorite Thai places, my favorite Thai restaurants is there, too.
Susanne: 17:21 Sabai Thai. Yes. That’s really good food.
Kim: 17:25 So if you’re there, stop in and see Susanne ship your stuff and have lunch. Exactly. Yes. And what are your hours?
Susanne: 17:33 My hours are Monday through Friday from nine to six.
Kim: 17:37 Great. Thank you so much for being on the show with me.
Susanne: 17:42 Thank you for having me.
Kim: 17:43 Is there anything I, I didn’t ask you that I should have?
Susanne: 17:47 No, I think we covered it pretty much. And so if you’re worried about shipping somethIng or your, um, wanting to sell something and you don’t know how much it’s gonna cost to ship, come in, bring it with you and I can give you a firm quote on what it’s going to cost and you can make a decision, an Informed decision about it. So I prefer talking with you. What is doable? I will give you an opportunity to see what it’s going to cost with the different shippers. Is the postal service in your best interest as UPS or FedEx in your best interest? Your best interest is what I’m concerned about. What is the best option for your particular case?
Kim: 18:35 Thank you for that and that just to me jumps out as what a value added service you’re offering here. It goes beyond, you know, if you go to the FedEx store or the UPS store, you’re, you’re, you’re determined into what ever they offer. You’re not going to have the big picture in the options. Yes. Yes. Thank you for. Thank you for offering that to us. You will go. Well, thanks again for coming on. Suzanne. Everybody else. Thank you for joIning us today. I’ll see you next time. Interviewing another interesting person here on Florida’s Space Coast bye.
Kim: 19:12 Join us next time for another episode of Space Coast Stories. You can find the show notes and other information at SpaceCoastStories.com. The views of the guests on this show are their own and don’t necessarily represent the views of the show owners, host or company. Thanks for listening to Space Coast Stories.