Packaging and shipping store, part 2

By Timothy Sanchez
This post may contain affiliate links, please see our full disclosure here

Last week I introduced my plan to open up Avalon Packaging and Shipping services or Avalon PASS. I have been in the planning stage of the business for over 1 year already and I have been operating on a limited scale. During my research and planning I have been talking to many people and have been getting valuable feedback about what is needed in our community for such a business.

For anyone who wants to start their business; community involvement in the plan is an important step. Some people may think that they should keep their business plan secret for fear that someone else might steal your idea and beat you to it. That is an understandable concern but it is most important is to get the feedback that you need to develop your plan to cater to the needs of your target customers and your community.

What is needed in your community and how can your business fill that need? Find what problems people are having and find out how your business can solve their problem.

Here is how I am crafting my business plan. I live in a unique island resort community. The US postal service does not deliver mail in Avalon. The only way to receive mail is in a USPS provided post office box. PO Boxes are only provided to full time year around residents, but we have hundreds of seasonal workers who live here for 3 to 8 months out of the year who need to receive mail and packages. Additionally many people have a need to send packages via UPS or Fed Ex but there is no way to do that and pay with cash or credit card. There is a contractor that handles UPS and Fed Ex deliveries but can only pick up packages with pre paid labels, or we have to write out credit card number on the box and they charge it on the mainland. Another local issue is the fact that most seasonal workers live in group employee housing or sort of bunk house arrangements and receiving parcels securely is nearly Impossible. Addresses are not really used here and not clearly recognizable, therefore Packages are mis-delivered, lost or stolen on a regular basis.

Avalon Packaging and Shipping store plus mailbox rentals will solve these problems. I am in the process of contracting with the US postal service as a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency. Avalon PASS can rent mailboxes to anybody; including seasonal residents. A box holder will therefore have a safe place to receive mail and parcels from USPS, UPS and Fed Ex. We can also ship packages via all the major carriers and we can even professionally package the items they wish to send. That is the basis of my business idea. I see a need in my community so I am building a business to fill that need and solve a problem.

There are many other products and services that easily pair with a pack and post store, therefore there are a lot of ways to make money.  Many pack and post businesses also offer print and copy service, notary public service, key copying, promotional products and there are a host of other possibilities. The motto for many such businesses is diversify, diversify, diversify. Find out what people want, see if you can do it and be profitable and add it to your menu of products and services.

I am in the process of securing a retail space for my store. I am going through necessary legal paperwork for the business and establishing accounts with suppliers. If you are interested in building your own pack and ship store or business; feel free to contact me if you want specific advice or have questions. I will be writing a complete guide based on what I am learning and will make it available when it is complete. I will say the first thing you must do is write a business plan. That sounds easy enough, but there is a lot to a proper business plan. I got a little help from an Ecourse and you may find it helpful too, click here to check it out.

If you have the money to invest or can get a business loan and live in a place with a high enough population, buying into a franchise like mailboxes etc. or the UPS store would be a very good way to open a pack and ship business. Franchise companies offer a lot of support and marketing that will help you be successful. For people living in small isolated communities or if you are starting your business on a limited budget; a franchise may not be the best route. My blog focuses on do it yourself entrepreneurs building businesses from scratch with very little money to start.

 

Avalon PASS; an introduction to the packaging and shipping business

By Tim Sanchez

This post may contain affiliate links, please see our full disclosure here

This week I want to share what my current entrepreneurial pursuit is. My business is called Avalon Packaging and Shipping Services or Avalon PASS. I first came up with the idea of opening a pack and post business from my experience with my e-commerce store and with my work at The Avalon Hotel.

I live on Catalina Island in Southern California. I am a perpetual entrepreneur and I moved to the resort village of Avalon seeking a more casual lifestyle where I can explore independent business opportunities and entrepreneurial pursuits. I broke away from the corporate world in 2005, quit my job as a District Sales Manager for USA TODAY and became a SCUBA instructor. I planned to chase the endless summer dream by moving between the north and south so I can stay in the summer zone and travel the world teaching SCUBA. I got as far as Catalina Island and that is it. The weather is so amazing here year around there is no need to chase summer.

I have been casually doing e-commerce since 2007, since I was working as a SCUBA instructor at the time my niche has been about dive gear. My stores got to the point where I was Packaging and Shipping 8 to 10 orders per day. I became very efficient and was able to get the orders out quickly either before or after I went to work. I also offered to help The Avalon Hotel with their shipping. The hotel sells spa products, robes coffee mugs and various other gift shop items and they receive many phone orders for products to be shipped. Additionally, sometimes guests will forget something in their room and leave the island, so the hotel will send the lost and found items to them. I took over all of the hotels Packaging and Shipping tasks. It had been a struggle for the front desk staff to do it and maintaining an inventory of packaging supplies took up too much space. Finding a box and tape, figuring out how to pack an item, going to the post office and dealing with petty cash for postage were time consuming tasks that took a staff member away from providing customer service or making sales. For me to do the packing and shipping along with what I was already doing was easy and seamless.

Since I started doing pack and post for the hotel, I realized that other businesses could benefit from this service also. I began developing a plan to offer packaging and shipping services to all businesses and residents in Avalon in early 2017. Now I am working on acquiring retail space to make the business modeled after a UPS Store or a mailboxes etc. type of store. I believe there is a need for mailbox rentals primarily for parcel receiving and for temporary residents and summer workers in the resort town of Avalon. As the business grows other services will be added including public access computer stations, hot desks, WiFi, phone charging, copy and print service and other business services including e-commerce solutions.

Please follow my blog as I will share more about the beginning of Avalon PASS and I will chronicle my progress and the process of developing an independent packaging and Shipping business. I will share my success and hopefully not too many failures. I am also anxious to share other business ideas that some of my friends and colleagues have developed. I will interview them and share what they came up with and I am sure that you will find it interesting and motivating. Finally I would like to share the story of how I got into selling on Ebay and e-commerce and how my former vending business created the steppingstone.

FIRE or PE? What does freedom look like for you?

In my research about how to become independent from employment slavery, I frequently come across articles about FIRE. I was told that if I have not heard of FIRE I must be living under a rock. I actually live on a rock but that is a whole other story. Apparently FIRE is all the rage now it stands for Financial Independence / Retire Early. At first glance I thought, yes that is what I am looking for. But is it really? Looking at Financial Independence literally it means having all the money you need without doing anything more to get it. For example, retiring with a big pension, being the beneficiary of a trust fund, saving and investing boatloads of money or winning the lottery.
This is the dream of many, retire early and start living the good life. For many people in my age group, living in the fourth quarter, if you don’t already have at least a couple million dollars in the bank it’s probably too late to save for true lasting financial independence and early retirement. To be realistic in my personal plans, I am working towards an independent lifestyle where I can earn enough through entrepreneurial endeavors to live comfortably and be able to enjoy a retirement like lifestyle while I am young and healthy enough to enjoy it. Rather than retiring from working; I am working toward breaking away from confining clock in and clock out employment and going independent, working on my own terms through entrepreneurial pursuits. That is what I call PE or perpetual entrepreneurship ; the idea is to develop the independent income streams through entrepreneurial endeavors to the point where they are generating steady income while personal involvement to work at it lessens with time. Ideally to have a business that can be run by employees while you take a cut of the profit to live off of. Or build it up to the point to where it is marketable to sell the business at a good price and live off the proceeds.
Currently I have an e-commerce business and I am expanding my business to meet a need that I see in my community. The very notion of entrepreneurship is finding a need and building a business that fills that need. Catalina island is a resort island off the coast of Southern California. The only town or city is Avalon; 2.9 square miles with a population of approximately 4000. Avalon is a beautiful hamlet that is well marketed as a weekend escape vacation destination therefore the primary revenue to the island is through tourism. During the busy summer season there will be hundreds of temporary workers that will move in and work for 4 to 6 months. One of the challenges for temporary residents on an isolated island is getting mail and packages. Avalon has no mail delivery, the only way to get mail is through a USPS provided PO Box and only full time year around residents are allowed to have one. Temporary residents can receive mail addressed to their name , General delivery, Avalon, CA. 90704. Then they can pick up mail at the window. That works to a point, but they can not order things online because most online retailers will not send product to a general delivery address. Plus some online retailers ship via UPS or Fed Ex. In Avalon a local company delivers parcels from those major carriers but temporary workers often live in bunkhouse type of workforce housing complexes and that creates challenges for receiving their parcels. Therefore I am working on opening a mailbox rental company similar to mailboxes etc. or the UPS store. Anybody, year around residents and temporary residents will be able to rent a mailbox and receive their mail and parcels securely and reliably at Avalon PASS. I looked into buying a franchise but they are very expensive and I would have to pay for services that the franchise requires that is not necessary  in our small community like big advertising and marketing campaigns. If you live an a large town or city on the mainland a franchise may be a good option for this type of business.
Avalon Packaging and Shipping services aka Avalon PASS is being modeled after a UPS store or mailboxes etc., but I am building it from scratch. Avalon PASS will fill another need in our community; packaging and shipping. Often visitors overpack or over shop and end up with too much stuff to carry home with them, so we can ship it for them. Hotels, restaurants and tour operators find items that guests leave behind. Most will be happy to send the lost item to its rightful owner but that is time consuming so Avalon PASS takes care of packaging and shipping items or merchandise for them. We have all the packaging materials and facilities to pack and ship easily and efficiently as I am already operating an e-commerce business and I ship product daily. There are many other income streams that will be included in the business including various business services for local businesses and travelers alike. I have been operating the business on a small scale with only a few clients for over a year now and I am gearing up to launch it full scale by the beginning of 2019.
I will make regular blog posts to document the progress. I hope my readers will find it informative and encouraging to anyone who has an entrepreneurial drive to start a business. Perhaps following my development of the business will be useful to anyone who dreams of starting any business weather it be pack and ship or something else. Years ago I built a successful vending business from scratch so this isn’t my first rodeo. Look for my blog about starting a vending business coming soon. Please follow my blog and feel free to comment, ask questions and share.

Follow on Facebook too: AvalonPASS or click the Facebook link on my blog sight.