If Prospect Heights were to have a shipping magnete, that person would be Bill Greenwood.
Greenwood started on Washington Avenue at Sterling Place in 2007. He added a second location on Flatbush Avenue at Bergen Street two years later, and just opened a third branch on Franklin and Sterling on Sept. 17.
But although his business is getting larger, what Greenwood relishes about it is the personal time he gets to spend with the customer.
The 39-year-old father of three had a sneaker shop on Long Island when the idea of opening a shipping store came to him. Although he had the storefront, most of his orders were online and he spent most of his time dealing with his website and his inventory rather than acutally meeting the people he served.
With sneakers “It’s just a constant grind of having to stay current (on styles). With this, everyday you meet people, you’re helping people.”
The Clara Barton High School graduate particularly takes pride in saving customers from the “horror story” that can result from poor packaging.
One customer brought crystal glassware packed so poorly “you could hear the clinking” in the box, he said. Luckily only a few pieces had broken on the way to the shop.
“You’d be surprised at how people have no real clue as to how to ship an item,” he said.
Some quick advice: never put fragile items in packing peanuts without first wrapping it in bubble wrap. And don’t send electronics back to stores in the packaging they came in—it’s too flimsy. (Manufactures expect some breakage when they ship it out but you’ll still be responsible if it breaks when you send it back, he said.)
Greenwood, who grew up in Flatbush but spent his teenage years hanging out at Sal's on Franklin Avenue after school let out, said he loves getting to know his customers.
“I enjoy the conversations. This area is so diverse, so I meet so many people, so many different cultures. I’m friends with a poet—I just saw her the other day,” he said.
For him, the biggest surprise of opening the Franklin Avenue shop was how much support he gets from the customers.
Before the store opened, he said customers were popping in all the time. “We were getting, ‘When are you opening? When are you opening?’ I’m always surprised at how appreciative the customers can be that we were here,” he said.
In turn, Greenwood tries to give back. In August he distibuted $2,000 worth of school supplies free at the festival, he said.
Besides shipping,the shops also offer a “virtual mailbox,” where for $25 a year and $1 to $2.50 a package you can get packages shipped to the shop. There are also traditional postal boxes, a faxing service, a two-computer Internet café, a passport photo service, and all the copying services of a traditional copy shop including collating, binding and laminating.
The Jamaica native and his wife have three sons, aged 19, 15 and 6. His oldest, Darius, works full time at the Franklin Avenue shop. After high school, Greenwood got an associates degree at the New York City College of Technology. He worked in the radiology department of Brooklyn Hospital for several years and was also a landlord for awhile.
But in shipping services, Greenwood found his true calling.
“I am very much a people person,” he said. When I see them (customers) it’s like seeing old friends, because shipping it’s just so personal.”