For 33 years, the USPS Contract Station #1 at the was the midtown spot to drop off mail, buy postage, ship a package, or rent a P.O. box. But as of Fri., Aug. 31, Contract Station #1, tucked away in the breezeway between the liquor store and Bank of America, .
"We don't want him to go," said longtime customer Sharon Sheehan of Hillsborough, referring to Michael Armando, the owner of the contract station.
"Is this when I burst into tears?"
"I found this post office years ago when took over from the Pine Brook Inn, and now I'm a faithful follower and I guess I'm going to have to figure out how to get to the other station at Crystal Springs," said Sheehan, referring to Armando's other contract station located in unincorporated San Mateo in the Crystal Springs Shopping Center.
"Technically I'm moving it, not closing it," said Michael Armando of the 850-square foot storefront. He declined to go into any details on the reasons for moving the popular postal station, citing an ongoing dispute with the shopping center's management.
"I wish there was something I could do," Armando said, between assisting the stream of mid-afternoon customers. "There's no way to salvage it--we're at the point of no return." He added that his station been moved three times within the shopping center over the years.
Donna Mattei of the Carlmont Shopping Center management office, through which Armando leases his storefront, says Armando chose not renew his lease because his earnings were down.
"His lease is done. We tried to work with him on a lease extension, but he is angry over having to pay for building improvements," said Mattei.
"His rent hasn't been raised in four years and in the past year we've had to do some sprinkler system repairs in his store, which he didn't think he should pay for," she added.
Mattei said the shopping center would like to have another USPS contract station there, but they would need to purchase Armando's contractor's license, and he's not selling.
"My contract is irreplaceable," said Armando.
Armando pointed out that the U.S. Post Office has nothing to do with the move. As the license holder, he is a contractor for the USPS and operates independently. He works out his own lease agreements with the shopping centers in which he operates his two stations.
He says he will consolidate all of the services and personnel at the Crystal Springs station, which he has had for over 30 years.
"My customers have a choice. They can go to the main Belmont branch on Masonic Way, or to the Crystal Springs Shopping Center," Armando said.
"The main branch only has six parking spaces, so parking will be easier at Crystal," he added.
Of his 212 P.O. box customers, Armando said he will re-assign boxes at the Crystal Springs station, or make arrangements to have customers' mail forwarded.
"I want to make it easy for my customers who have been with me for a while," Armando said. He added that he hopes to bring his employee, T. Briscoe, to the Crystal Springs station.
Armando says Friday is his last day at Carlmont despite the
"Once I put that sign up, that was it," he said.
Click here to read an Aug. 9 regarding the post office closing.