For Laveen residents, the juxtaposition of rural farmland with urban infrastructure generates a folksy ambiance and homey atmosphere characteristic of living in this Phoenix suburb.
Nowhere is that downhome feeling paired with more efficiency than at the tiny, but mighty, Laveen Post Office that sits just south of Dobbins Road on 51st Avenue.
That intersection is central to Laveen’s history with the first general store owned by the Laveen family sitting on the southeast corner.
Roger G. Laveen served as the first post master, operating the post office inside the store beginning Sept. 30, 1913 when the Laveen Post Office was officially recognized. Roger and his brother Walter, as well as other family members, are credited with the founding of the community named for them.
In May 1969, according to a short news article, land was purchased for $2,500 south of Dobbins Road to build a 12,390-square-foot structure. In April 1974, Laveen Post Master Ralph S. Spotts announced in another news article that a $40,000 contract had been awarded to Laveen Enterprises Inc. to build the new post office with an expected opening date of September 1974.
Agnes Spotts, his widow and a 35-year resident of Laveen, said the quality of the small post office has been impeccable during all the years she has lived here. “It’s always given great service. The service has always been perfect,” she said.
On any given morning, the Laveen Post Office, which has two retail windows inside a tiny waiting area that comfortably fits only about five people along with various packing supplies, is bustling from opening at 8:30 a.m. to midmorning. There’s a tiny lull before the lunchtime rush, and another big push between 2:30 and closing at 4:30 p.m.
Residents bustle in and out, checking the banks of 1,041 post office boxes, or waiting in line to mail packages, pick up items or purchase stamps. Small business owners greet each other with familiarity, many using the post office for their business mailing address.
On a recent Monday afternoon, each of the about 15 parking spots were full, with vehicles squeezing out spots in gravel areas and along the fence that separates the post office from the Laveen School District’s Transportation Department.
Karen Lopez, current post mistress, poked her head out the pick-up window briefly, saw a line of about 15 people waiting and said she’d have to answer questions via email because there simply wasn’t time for her to take a break.
Lopez, an energetic and outgoing woman, has been in charge of the post office and its auxiliary locations in Laveen since 2005. When asked what makes the Laveen location special, Lopez praised her coworkers.
“While I’ve worked with many outstanding postal employees over the course of my career, the team we have in Laveen makes me especially proud because of their commitment to service,” she said. “Some of the original clerks that many people know have now retired, but they were active members of the Laveen community (such as) Pat Cervantes, Sharon Anderson and Gloria Villa.”
Keeping up with the pace of growth and change in Laveen has been an ongoing challenge. “We have gone from six routes in a 1,600-square-foot building back in 2005 up to 15 routes spread out into our three facilities that make up our Laveen Post Office. We have almost doubled in size in the last 10 years to meet the needs of the Laveen community.”
Lopez said employment fluctuates, but on average the Laveen Post Office averages 25 employees, which includes five clerks, 15 regular carriers and from five to 10 substitute carriers. Extra staff is being added currently as the USPS enters its busiest season.
Peter Hass, with USPS corporate communications for Arizona, said the Laveen Post Office served about 13,800 deliveries in 2015; up less than 3 percent from the previous year. Although there will be significant growth in the coming years in Laveen and nearby, he said there are no plans to expand.
“There are no current plans to expand the Laveen Post Office or to seek a new location. However, it’s important to note that the U.S. Postal Service is constantly evaluating its facility needs to provide the best possible service to our customers,” Hass said.
Hass also said that the advent of online options for ordering stamps, purchasing and printing postage for packages and even arranging for package pick-up using USPS.com, has decreased the need for physical structures compared with years past.
|Postmasters by City
|LAVEEN POST OFFICE
MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA