usps

Two post offices in the area are offering discounted shipping services for small businesses as part of a pilot program by the United States Postal Service (USPS).

USPS Connect Local launched July 19 at four Houston locations - including the Oak Forest Post Office at 2499 Judiway St. and the North Shepherd Post Office at 7511 N. Shepherd Dr. - as well as in Dallas. A Houston-based spokesperson for the postal service said the program, which offers same-day and next-day package deliveries within designated zip codes in close proximity to each other, will expand to other Texas locations in the coming weeks and months.

The USPS spokesperson, Nikki Johnson, declined to say how many businesses had enrolled in the program as of Tuesday -- eight days after it launched.

"We are encouraged by the enthusiasm from our business customer community in Houston," Johnson said.

USPS said in a news release that the pilot program facilitates "Main Street" commerce by offering small businesses delivery rates that are usually only available to large-volume customers.

According to USPS, interested businesses should submit their contact information online at www.uspsconnect.com. They will then be contacted by a USPS representative and must sign an agreement, the details of which Johnson declined to divulge, to be enrolled in the program.

Once enrolled, business customers can go online to enter package information, print shipping labels, prepay for postage and receive tracking numbers. They then can drop off their labeled packages at the back dock of the designated post office - between 5-7 a.m. for same-day delivery or 30 minutes before the back dock closes for next-day delivery - and mail carriers will deliver the packages as part of their daily routes.

As part of the pilot program, the Oak Forest location is serving zip codes 77018, 77022, 77092 and 77292, while the North Shepherd Post Office is serving 77037, 77039, 77076, 77088, 77091, 77093, 77222, 77238 and 77291.

Interested small businesses can visit www.uspsconnect.com or call 1-855-698-7772 to learn more about the program.

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