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There was a time in the past when post offices in rural communities were often in general stores. Now, in an effort to expand its services, the Postal Service is going back to that concept with community post offices. Roadside Market (the BP station in Montvale) recently became the third such post office in Southwestern Virginia.
"We are going to sell stamps, of course, and we are going to be doing flat rate boxes," said Brenda Thomas, Roadside Market's owner. The store will sell either sheets of stamps or single stamps There will also be a mailbox outside the door.
It's an advantage for Thomas to do this. She said it should increase foot traffic in the store and it will allow her to offer a new service to the community.
"I'm glad to have the opportunity," she said.
Cynthia Coles, the director of marketing for the Postal Service's Appalachian District, said this is a new concept. It allows customers more hours to do post office business because these community post offices have more extensive hours. Thomas' store, for example opens at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday. The store opens at 6 a.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. on Sundays. It stays open every day until 10 p.m.
The Roadside Market offers the Postal Service an established location that has high visibility. It's right on U. S. 460 and it's been in business since 1957. Thomas has owned it for 24 of its 56 years.
By the way, when you go in Roadside Market, be sure to check out the floors. Those are the original hardwood floors installed when it first opened more than half a century ago.