A mail-strom in Kensington

A mail-strom in Kensington
The Brooklyn Paper / Sebastian Kahnert

The Postal Service has a simple solution for improving service at its notoriously bad Kensington branch — sending the customers elsewhere.

Postal officials are hoping to put a satellite post office — officially, a “contract postal unit” — in an existing retail space.

The result could be shorter lines and less stress for customers at the infamous McDonald Avenue station.

“The intention is to provide the best service we can in each station, but there are times when the traffic flow is very heavy, so we try to give our customers choices,” said Postal spokesman Bob Trombley.

A contract postal unit is a mini–post office located inside a store — usually a supermarket, pharmacy or office supplies shop — that provides all of the services that regular post offices provide, except for money orders, Trombley said.

Businesses staff the satellite post office with their own employees — then get increased foot traffic and a percentage of postal sales, Trombley said.

He added that the planned unit — which would be the 19th in Brooklyn — would draw customers away the Kensington Station, shortening the wait at the branch.

But customers say that with the slow service, rude staff, and misplaced mail, they don’t need much encouragement to stay away from the Kensington station, a branch with a bad reputation that only got worse when a video of an outraged customer went viral in December, 2006 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdrqLrdYAr0).

Was it the video — which has received more than 125,000 views on YouTube — that motivated the Postal Service to fix the Kensington station? Or an overriding desire by the Postal Service to improve service?

“Nothing spurred us on to do it other than providing alternate means of access to the customer,” Trombley said.

Elected officials support the idea of a second postal station instead of fixing the existing one.

“We hope that having a contract postal unit would alleviate some of the pressure the post office,” said Jean Weinberg, a spokeswoman for Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Park Slope). “The community is growing, and business owners and residents deserve a functioning postal facility.”

Even employees at the Kensington branch are eager about the possibility of a contract postal unit.

“If we could get one, it would be good,” said Kensington Station Manager Richard Chin. “It would help the customers so they wouldn’t have to wait in line.”

But there is one big problem — the Postal Service has not yet found the right store to house the pint-sized post office.

“We’ve been canvassing the Kensington area, but we’ve yet to find a retail space that … is interested in participating,” Trombley said.

Michael Jording, manager of the Key Food on Prospect Avenue, said that if he had the space, he’d consider housing the unit — if only to improve postal service in the neighborhood.

“I’m getting everybody’s mail but my own,” Jording said. “Every day, I go through my mail and I’ve got letters for all my neighbors. Last time I went there I told them, ‘I feel like I’m the one working for the post office.’”