Robert Belk has manned his UPS store on Mauldin Road for some 20 years, and he and his 5 employees have never experienced a year like this last one! When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, his business initially slowed down, but then as time went by, it picked up, and now he finds himself busier than ever.
Over the holiday season, his UPS store experienced a crazy workload with a 25% increase in customers. To Mr. Belk, it became obvious that some folks had foregone the traditional Christmas travel and gatherings and sent their packages to beloved family and friends instead. And now with the U.S. Postal Service’s ongoing issues, Mr. Belk finds that the demand for UPS shipping keeps rising.
On the average, his business ships 25-50 UPS packages and processes close to 100 Amazon drop-offs each day. Those Amazon drop-offs accounted for a lot of the holiday traffic!
If it has been a while since you returned an Amazon product, the process has been greatly simplified thanks to UPS stores and Kohl’s which serve as drop-off sites. According to Mr. Belk, Amazon pays a fee to UPS stores to handle their drop-offs. The customer indicates their desire to return the article on the Amazon website and then either prints out the QR code or uses his phone to supply it. He then takes the item to the UPS store.
Once the QR code is scanned by store employees, the item is bagged and then loaded into a big box. This box may contain as many as 40 different articles to be returned to Amazon. The packed boxes are then shipped to one of the three regional Amazon centers where they unpack the contents and decide what to do with the returned items. Meanwhile, the customer receives a printed receipt from the UPS Store providing them with proof of the item’s return. Mr. Belk estimates that 99% of these returned items follow this process with this service incurring no charge to the customer.
If an item must be sent by itself with unique packaging requirements and special labels printed out, then charges may be incurred but this is not the typical situation. And, of course, in these rare instances, the customer can always box up and pack the item and label the shipping container themselves to avoid incurring charges.
In addition to serving as an Amazon drop-off site, Mr. Belk’s store returns computer and television equipment belonging to companies such as Spectrum, AT&T, and DIRECTTV for customers who may be changing providers or require equipment update or repair. These services rarely incur a charge unless the company itself asks for a fee.
However, what many folks don’t realize is that Mr. Belk’s store offers a host of other services besides shipping!
He and his staff can assist customers with many of their printing needs.
One of his more interesting options is called Every Door Direct Mailer or EDDM where his personnel help design, print, and mail targeted advertisements. In addition to printing standard business cards, envelopes, and flyers of all sorts, his shop can produce gallery canvases wrapped on a wooden-frames, window “clings” displaying an advertisement on the outside but a clear view from the inside, as well as car decals and wraps. Mr. Belk says that UPS stores may not be the first outlet that people think about for their printing needs, but UPS stores such as his offer exciting, high quality, and affordable products and options in this area.
Mr. Belk takes his responsibilities as a business owner and citizen seriously. He does everything he can to recycle the copious cardboard generated in his business. He says that for the last 20 years, he has made a practice of breaking down boxes and taking cardboard to the recycling center on White Horse Road.
Indeed, it has been an incredibly busy year for Robert Belk, other UPS store managers in our area, and all their employees. Mr. Belk says that their drivers continue to provide critical services despite the pandemic and shortages.
The Simpsonville Sentinel commends UPS, its business owners in our area, its employees, and its drivers for their efforts to keep our communities going and thriving through troubled times. Christmas would have been a lot more difficult and this last year impossible without their ongoing commitment and their many contributions.
Mr. Belk’s UPS Store #2958 is located at 201 B West Butler Road in Mauldin. The store is open from 8:30 am-7:00 pm Monday through Friday. Saturday hours range from 10:00 am-3:30 pm; Sunday hours from 10:00 am-3:00 pm. The Sunday hours are new and started about 3 months ago. The store offers a full range of services even on the weekend.■