Sit with Bill for an afternoon and you’ll hear half a dozen business ideas simmering on his back burner. Like many of Bill’s tales, the story of the South Park Mail & Parcel begins with a simple premise.
“I got tired of leaving the neighborhood,” says Bill Owens with a chuckle. “People in South Park need a place to get their mail, and I needed to make my own job here.” Bill is motivated by the circumstances of his health to build a sustainable business in the neighborhood. “Folks say I have nine lives, like a cat, but now maybe it’s more like seven and a half,” he says. “It can be tiring just to cross the street some days, so I, like other residents, need services here in South Park.” With triumph he adds, “I saw this available space right by the marina, and it doesn’t get much closer than that!” Bill lives on a houseboat with his service dog Honey Bear. Together they operate the Mail & Parcel and the D.O.G. (Dog’s Outdoor Gear) in one shop with banks of retro mailboxes beneath racks of pet supplies.
Bill is well-attuned to the needs of small town South Park. He offers mailbox rentals plus personalized mail services. “A lot of us work during the day, and some travel abroad. I started to offer package receiving from all carriers so folks can know their shipment is secure, and not just sitting out on the porch.” What makes Bill reliable? He’s worn many hats: Eagle Scout, US Navy, firefighter, computer operator, customer service rep, cruise ship greeter, and wooden boat skipper. “I usually do the work of three people, and my doctor said it was time to retire,” Bill scoffs. Don’t tell his doctor, but Bill’s only semi-retired.
And what hat does an entrepreneur-skipper wear? “My hat is an ushanka, ‘ear hat’ in Russian. My first ushi was acquired when I swapped my hat and a carton of Marlboros with a Russian seaman during joint military maneuvers in the late ’70s – I’ve worn one ever since.” Look for the ushi that looks to the horizon (unless it’s summer, in which case, look for the ball cap).
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