ALEXANDRIA BAY — The United Parcel Service store in the Price Chopper Plaza has opened, bringing new life to one of the vacant storefronts in the complex.
After a year of planning, securing funds and coordinating with contractors, retired financier Robert L. Gould has filled a barren 1,750-square-foot space with more than 200 mailboxes, with room to add more; a long service counter facing the entrance, a shelf filled with packaging supplies, printers and other tools for his franchise, which mirrors the standard UPS store design. Unlike many other stores, however, Mr. Gould has 850 square feet of storage space and a 700-square-foot upstairs loft behind the counter for packages and supplies.
Mr. Gould, Brownville, offers not only mailboxes and supplies, but also shipping, receiving and printing services at his store, 43449 Route 12, unit 100, which opened Aug. 12. While he said he faced a tough learning curve for operating his store, he said he’s excited that he has already served several year-round residents, seasonal residents needing to ship goods to their permanent homes and two other businesses: The Sign Source, Cornelius, N.C., which has a Wellesley Island post office box, and Toad and Lily, McDonalds Corners, Ontario.
“I’m excited for the store and really excited how the community has received it and how everyone seems tickled that we’re here,” Mr. Gould said.
The rising trend of online shopping has created a boom in shipping, particularly with Canadian consumers buying U.S. goods, and Mr. Gould wanted to capitalize on the trend with a UPS store near the Thousand Islands International Bridge system. Residents of southern Ontario can reduce the cost of receiving and sending goods to the U.S. by opening a mailbox at his store and returning home.
Mr. Gould, however, said the primary driver for opening the store was providing a business for his family. After retiring from his job as a financial representative for Northwestern Mutual, he began helping his son, Robert E. Gould, Alexandria Bay, by driving him around to deliver packages for UPS. The father said he eventually wants to hand the reins to his son, who will then pass it down to his young grandson, Eli Gould. His daughter, Erinn Norris, works for him part-time alongside two other employees.
Eli has been given an small office space, decorated with a calendar, chalkboard, a lava lamp, toy truck, office supplies, a large white “E” and card holder with his own business cards.
“Its about the health and welfare of my family,” Mr. Gould said.
The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency approved a $40,000 loan for Mr. Gould’s operation in December.
Redstone Investments, Tampa, Fla., built the shopping center on Route 12 in 2012 and welcomed its first tenant, Price Chopper, in spring of 2013. Gary A. “Critter” Williams opened his store, Plaza Wine and Liquor, months after in August 2013. The developer had since been unable to fill any other storefronts until garnering Mr. Gould’s UPS store franchise.
Mr. Williams said he has taken another storefront space in the plaza to double the size of his shop and add more inventory. Construction for his addition will begin after Labor Day, he said, adding that the store will remain open.
“It looks like it’s going to be a really good opportunity and it’s exciting to have more traffic,” he said.
Redstone officials did not return request for comment.