HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The ongoing controversy over the United States Postal Service is having a very real impact for many local small businesses that rely on the service.
Michael Savino, owner of Michael's Cookie Jar, says he has relied on his neighbor, a U.S. Post Office branch off Bissonnet and Weslayan, to deliver his cookies to customers around the country.
"Since COVID-19, we have been increasing the amount we ship, and we rely on the post office because for a lot of our stuff, it's the best value," Savino said.
"We just introduced a new service called Cookiegram. It's a cookie, and a card, and it costs $10. We ship it anywhere. We use the post office because their rates are the best for that product. Now, it's taking two or three extra days for people to receive their product."
Savino sees the recent service slowdown as a direct result of new rules implemented by the U.S. Postmaster General a few months ago. The various measures, including limiting overtime and removing some sorting machines, were touted as making the U.S. Postal Service more efficient. But, as been reported nationally, many postal workers are worried about slowdowns.
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After seeing it affect his business, Savino wrote a lengthy Facebook post, asking: "How am I supposed to grow my business with the post office being attacked?"
Savino is certainly not alone. At the busy USPS branch on Unity at Hillcroft, we came across many small business owners who visit the post office at least once a day.
"I've had a lot of problems, but I'm still behind them," said Debbie Clark, who sells clothing online. "For me, they've been really responsive. You have to take extra steps, you can't just drop stuff, you have to wait in line, get a receipt, then you're covered."
Another customer, Ann, was far less enthusiastic. "I think the post office is incompetent," she said, while sending off a package for her granddaughter's birthday.
Amidst all this uncertainty, Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, is allowing anyone who has an absentee ballot to physically drop them off at one of his 11 county annex locations.
"If you bring it in person, you will have your ID checked, you won't have put a stamp on it, you'll hand it to us and we'll make sure your vote gets counted," Hollins said, who brushed aside any concerns that his drop off plan may be challenged by Republicans. "Voting by mail is the safest and most convenient way to vote, and we want to keep it that way."
As for Savino, he says the various political discussions are a challenge for small business owners, who are just trying to survive the pandemic with help from the post office.
"The post office is about people getting their mail, their medicine, their social security checks, things they order, we shouldn't be politicalizing it. It's just a service that people needs," Savino said.