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New package shipping biz opens at University Plaza

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Dawn Kidd and her husband, Barret, pose for a photo in their new business, the Elizabeth City Mailbox Center, Thursday. The business opened at University Plaza off North Road Street in mid-April. The Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce held a Business After Hours event at the Mailbox Center on Thursday.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Monday, June 11, 2018

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but there’s also something to be said for frustration. 

Dawn Kidd was frustrated by the long line she encountered at the Elizabeth City Post Office while waiting to ship a package this past Christmas, so frustrated she saw a potential business opportunity.

Kidd and her husband, Barret, opened their new package shipping business, the Elizabeth City Mailbox Center, at University Plaza off North Road Street in April.

The Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce held a Business After Hours meet-and-greet event at the Kidds’ new business Thursday of last week.

Besides package shipping, Elizabeth City Mailbox Center offers a wide variety of services. Customers not only can rent mailboxes, they also can order custom-made banners and posters and get images processed onto canvas. The business also offers faxing, notarizing and photocopying services.

EC Mailbox Center customers can also pick up auxiliary items for cellphones, and in a nod to Barret Kid’s connection to the military — he’s retired from the Navy — military-related memorabilia.

The EC Mailbox Center is the first business venture for the Kidds.

Originally from California, the Kidds met while Dawn was working in banking and Barret was in the Navy. After marrying, the couple lived in a number of places across the country before ending up in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area.

"We had always been West Coast, so we decided: Let's move to the East Coast," Dawn said.

After Barret retired from the Navy, the Kidds moved to Elizabeth City. Barret is employed as a civilian contractor who works on Coast Guard helicopters at the Aviation Logistics Center at Base Elizabeth City. Dawn worked in real estate and cared for her ailing father.

After her father died, the Kidds started looking around for a business opportunity that might also provide Dawn with another career. It was about then that Dawn found herself waiting in that long line at the Elizabeth City Post Office on Ehringhaus Street last Christmas.

Frustrated at how long it was taking to get served, it dawned on Dawn that others might be equally frustrated with the wait and go somewhere else to mail packages if such a place was available. She thought she knew just the spot for a business that offered shipping service: University Plaza in north Elizabeth City.

"And so when I left there, after an hour or so, I drove by here, saw that this section was available and looked into finding someone to help me build it out. And three months later, we were here," she said.

Asked if business has been good so far, Dawn said it has.

"Everyone keeps asking us if we've advertised," she said.

Running your first business can be stressful, Dawn acknowledged.

"At first we were so scared that people might actually show up and we wouldn't know what we were doing," she said with a laugh.

Right now, the Elizabeth City Mailbox has a full-time manager and one employee.

Asked about his role at the store, Barret referred to himself as a "benchwarmer."

"I come in as needed. I try to be as qualified as they are, but still I let them run the show right now," he said.

Dawn said she and Barret, both of whom are 55, hope to be in business for 10 years and then retire.

Thursday’s Business After Hours at the EC Mailbox Center drew a good crowd. Donald Imhoff, vice president of sales and operations for Eastern Shore Communications in Elizabeth City, said he was impressed with the Kidds and their business.

"It's a fantasic addition to the community," he said.

Imhoff believes the EC Mailbox Center offers a quick alternative to the U.S. Postal Service, something that’s important for businesses.

"I think you can come in here and be out within probably a few minutes," he said.

The Elizabeth City Mailbox Center is located at University Plaza at 1313 North Road, Suite E, and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. The business can be reached by phone at 331-6766 or by email at ecmailboxcenter@gmail.com. More information is available online at www.ecmailboxcenter.com

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