CHAPPELLS — A rural community with a single flashing light is the first in the Greater South Carolina District to open a Village Post Office.
On Thursday afternoon, Horne’s General Store held a grand opening for the first VPO where the community gathered to welcome the unique idea of merging the convenience of a general store with postal services.
“The Village Post Office is a new concept to provide access to postal services for the rural community,” said Harry Spratlin, communications coordinator for the U.S. Postal Service in the Greater South Carolina District.
The idea evolved in July 2011 for village post offices, explained Spratlin. The postal service surveyed the community of Chappells which “overwhelmingly chose to keep their post office open,” said Spratlin.
Chappells has a post office across the road from Horne’s with regular hours but Spratlin explained that this would offer “alternate access” to postal services since the store is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.
In the summer, the store will be open later, said Owner Ravi Nder Kumar, who bought the store in 2006.
Cathy Horne manages the store and Horne said they have a “wonderful partnership.”
The store and post office are a central point in Chappells. Spratlin said that when the U.S. Postal Service held a public meeting in November, Horne was there and a connection was made.
“We hope for many more (VPOs) in the state of South Carolina,” said Spratlin.
“We are here for you,” Horne said as she addressed the packed store. She explained they sell stamps and boxes and that the employees have been taught what they need to know.
“Ravi (owner) and I both love this community and this is one way to give back,” said Horne who describes Chappells as a “quaint little town.”
In fact, Horne can recall the history of the town and the amenities that it used to have.
Horne explained that this will help the small community and save time while serving the clientele of Greenwood, Saluda and Newberry as people travel through Chappells to get from one point to another.
“It will help with the people who need stamps and there’s no extra costs,” said Kumar who explained that the business is a combination of a gas station, convenience store, fast food place and now post office services.
“What a great concept for Chappells which is in the corner of everywhere,” said Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster.
Foster also joked that perhaps the store should be renamed Drucker’s Store as he recalled a television show memory from years past that offered conveniences like Horne’s.
“The Village Post Office is the perfect fit for the rural community, offering 10 to 14 hour days, seven days a week,” said Margaret Floyd, retail manager for the Greater S.C. District for the U.S. Postal Service.
Another VPO scheduled for Cameron in Orangeburg County will open in a few weeks, Spratlin said.