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MALONE, Wash. -- Once the go-to place for such convenience store staples as lottery tickets and beer, Red's Hop N' Market in this tiny Pacific Northwest town now offers another convenient service -- the post office.
The store -- which has become the test ground for the first village post office in the country -- has been selling stamps and shipping supplies since the post office opened inside in August. Mailboxes that residents can access with a key are located outside the store.
The U.S. Postal Service first raised the possibility of locating the post office in Red's Hop N' Market last year. Cheryl Kim, who owns the store with her husband Johnny, was confused by the letter initially and put the idea aside. However, she agreed to the proposal after post office officials visited in June, she told CNN. If the mail service could not find a place for a village post office, the town of Malone was in danger of losing its zip code, she added.
The U.S. Postal Service is exploring all options in its bid to reduce operating costs in the face of its $9-billion debt. In fact, the country's postmaster general, Patrick Donahoe, told Congress last week that it is in real danger of becoming insolvent within a year if changes are not made.
Red's Hop N' Market is doing its part to help. The postal service pays the owners $2,000 a year and, in turn, the organization saves $42,000, according to Ernie Swanson, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Seattle.
The addition of the village post office has also brought with it benefits in the form of new customers to Red's Hop N' Market, according to the news outlet. "We've noticed a lot of new faces," Kim said. "They come into see what the village post office looked like and what we did in here and what kind of postal options they could get."