On Jan. 14 in Faulkner, Charles County’s first village post office opened.
In October, representatives from the U.S. Postal Service visited several rural post offices in Charles to discuss pending cuts in hours of operation, aimed at curtailing a $14 billion loss for the agency.
The Postal Service decided to cut the Faulkner post office to four hours a day. To offer residents in the area an alternative, the Red Top convenience store has become part of the U.S. Postal Services’s Village Post Office program.
Although the first in the county, the Red Top village post office is not the first in the region. At the beginning of the month, one opened in Helen in St. Mary’s County, where the post office had been shut down in August.
Postal Service Capital District Retail Manager Xiomara Chalmers said the supplementary locations are important.
“This is a way to help expand our alternate access channel,” Chalmers said. “It allows the post office to provide services in different ways. It provides limited services without the town losing its name or Zip code, which is important.”
As a village post office, the Red Top store will ship packages and sell stamps, but residents can’t pick up mail there. The village location will work in partnership with the Faulkner post office.
As of last Monday, the Faulkner office is open only from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, Faulkner Officer in Charge Diane Harris said.
“I think that this will be good for when the office is closed,” Harris said. “It’ll really help the customers.”
Red Top Manager Dilpreet Singh said Postal Service representatives approached him last month about making the store into a village post office. After consulting with his family, Singh said, the decision was easy.
“I’m a local. I can literally walk to my house from the store, so this affects me, too,” Singh said. “We open at 6 in the morning and close around 8 at night. You can come here then and do what you need to. The post office isn’t open then. We’re open every day.”
Like the Faulkner post office, the Red Top village post office will rely on carrier service from Bel Alton to ship items.
Cynthia Dyson, a village post office coordinator for the U.S. Postal Service, said that plans are in the works to open other village post offices in the area but that she could not provide locations or dates.