Liberty residents no longer will have to drive to Girard or Youngstown to mail packages via the U.S. Postal Service.
The USPS approved Wednesday a contractual post office inside Liberty’s Giant Eagle, 4700 Belmont Ave.
Bob Graff, vice president of operations at the grocery store, said Thursday that he hopes to have the postal service running by March.
It will be USPS’ only post office in the township since the one inside the administration building closed in 2007. It was draining money from the township’s general fund, and auditors discovered money being stolen from the site.
David Van Allen, a USPS spokesman, said the Giant Eagle contractual post office will benefit everyone.
According to the USPS, there are more than 70,000 contractual sites throughout the country.
Van Allen said they alone generated more than $600 million in revenue last year for the postal service.
For USPS, the contractual sites decrease waiting time at other post offices, which improves customer satisfaction and decreases costs while not giving ground on market share to its competitors.
On the other end, Liberty’s Giant Eagle can advertise the post office in the store.
And it also will be beneficial for the community, said Liberty trustees Chairman Stan Nudell, who made it a point while running for office two years ago say he’d try to bring back the post office.
“It was very difficult, especially for older people, having to go outside of our community to find a post office,” Nudell said.
He said over the past two years, residents have asked him constantly when a post office was returning.
Graff said the Giant Eagle tried to petition USPS three years ago to open a post office within the store, but the USPS was not interested.
About a year ago, Nudell persuaded representatives from the USPS Cleveland branch to study the need for a post office in Liberty. The study proved the need, and in September, USPS sent out a notice seeking bids for a possible location.
Graff submitted a lengthy bid, highlighting the store’s location, foot traffic and more.
When the post office opens, it will run out of the store’s service center and will be open seven days a week with “extended hours,” Graff said. He said he was not sure of the exact hours, but it will be open longer than routine post- office hours, which are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
Graff said it will be run by existing employees, but if demand calls for more employees, it’s something Graff is willing to consider.
“I hope to hire more people,” Graff said. “But it’s too early to tell.”