I took this photo in downtown Fargo the other day. This is a FedEx driver unloading his goods at the main Post Office.
Now, why would FedEx be unloading goods at the Post Office, you might be wondering? If you hang around long enough, you’d be prompted to ask the same question when the UPS driver shows up. They drop off their goods at the Post Office because they don’t deliver to all the places that the post office does — specifically, the super small communities we’ve visited so often for our Ghosts of North Dakota project.
Look at this photo again.
Did you know many of your UPS and FedEx packages get delivered by the Postal Service? Compare price structure for shipping via those three vendors and you might be surprised (even upset) to discover you pay more via FedEx and UPS most of the time, and they just drop your package at the post office for the mail carrier to deliver. I’m belaboring this point because I want you to understand why we ship exclusively via the US Postal Service.
1. It’s cheaper. We ship books primarily, which are heavy and expensive to ship. It’s important to us that we keep shipping costs as low as possible for our customers. The US Postal Service has a media mail rate (a flat fee based on weight, regardless of zone) that private shippers can’t compete with.
2. The Postal Service is important. In every community we’ve visited for the Ghosts of North Dakota project, the Post Office was an important place. Townsfolk many times volunteered to work the post office because without it, residents would have to drive miles to pick up their mail at the next-closest PO. When the post office closes, the town soon follows.
3. Political meddling. There are political forces that would like you to believe the postal service is an inept, dysfunctional government organization that is going broke. The truth is, the Congress passed a law in 2006 that’s killing the USPS, and some say it’s an effort to privatize shipping once and for all, giving away the billions of dollars worth of business to FedEx and UPS, who I assure you, will charge outlandish prices to ship something to a place like Forbes or Bentley, North Dakota. As a small business owner, my business would take a hit in the thousands of dollars per year if the postal service were privatized. As a company, Sonic Tremor Media does not support privatization of the postal service.
Of course, we always make special arrangements for any customer who requests them, and FedEx and UPS both have their advantages in certain niches and with super speedy business-related deliveries, but by default, we ship via US Postal Service and encourage you to do the same. Thanks for reading!
Troy Larson is a father, author, and photographer originally from Minot, North Dakota, now residing in Fargo.