As 2019 inched to a close, the world was normal as Aaron and Janine Moeller decided they would move their 5-year-old Ahwatukee PostNet outlet across the street to a new space with better parking and other amenities.
By the time their move got underway March 19, the world was crashing – but they got an idea that parents throughout Gilbert and the rest of the East Valley are buying into.
A week earlier, all schools were ordered closed for two weeks and subsequent directives closed them for the rest of the school year.
This affected the couple personally as their 8-year-old son, Josh, a second grader.
Suddenly, it was a daunting time for the Colorado couple, who chose Ahwatukee from a nationwide list of possible places to start their own business.
“It was scary signing a new long-term lease in such an environment, said Aaron. “Yet overall, the move has already been good for us and I’m sure over time it will be seen as a great move for us.”
Unlike many businesses, the couple’s PostNet has been bustling with activity, he said.
A major reason for that is to offer an inexpensive way for families to celebrate high school and middle school graduations by creating yard signs to honor the students who face the strong prospect of canceled commencement ceremonies this May.
Since their March 28 announcement of the full-color signs with high school logos of many area schools – including Perry High in Gilber - the business has been literally swamped with orders.
The 18 x 24 inch yard signs – with a graduate’s name and or photo for $7 more – come with a metal outdoor H-stake.
PostNet needs to order them in bulk with 25 per order so individual families can be charged only $10.
And 25 orders per school hasn’t proved problematic.
“We had inquiries from Ahwatukee, Chandler and throughout the East Valley and as far as Casa Grande and Globe,” said Janine. “These are custom order items so they are printed as we get orders in.”
Once they announced their ability to supply the yard signs, their Facebook page exploded with interests and requests – among them parents and students from Basha, Hamilton and Chandler high schools in Chandler, where the couple own and operate their second PostNet at 2820 S. Alma Road.
Inquiries were also fielded for Red Mountain and Skyline High in Mesa; Valley Christian in Chandler; and Xavier College Prep in Scottsdale.
Aaron said the Moellers and their staff were surprised, yet grateful, for the interest.
“We’re extremely thankful for the response to the Class of 2020 yard signs. We try to be very active in the community and like to think this is a way to help the class of 2020 to get a little more attention, and engage the community in what the kids have achieved,” he said.
The volume of orders has grown exponentially and may yet peak as May draws closer.
“We really appreciate the parents trusting us with this as well,” he said. “Many people have also been very patient as we had huge volume in a short period of time, probably 80 percent of all our signs have been custom which takes longer to set up,” he said.
“Getting through the backlog was a challenge but it has kept us and our whole staff busy, which is what we were hoping for. Many people understand that even though we’re open, the current climate is not business-as-usual since we still depend on other vendors for our supplies.”
The Moellers previously worked in the corporate world in Denver.
After nearly two years of intensive searching for self-employment opportunities coast-to-coast, they opted for the PostNet franchise and opened the first of their two storefronts in Ahwatukee.
They had weaned the site down from a final list of 10 areas where they felt opportunities awaited them.
Aaron wanted to operate a business that allowed for a good work-life balance.
Six years ago they took the leap, knowing only one couple in the area, Bryon and Dawn Matesi, who were long-time friends from Denver.
The pair dove into the task, networking in the community and putting in long hours, but those things, along with their joint commitment to succeed, has paid off.
“We’ve lived in Ahwatukee since we moved here about six years ago to start the business,” said Janine. “We love the community and so does our son Josh.
“And meeting so many wonderful people throughout Ahwatukee is another reason we wanted to honor these local 2020 graduates who deserve the recognition even without the graduation ceremony they’d been looking forward to.”
The new storefront isn’t much larger than the one they had across the street at 4605 E. Chandler, but there are benefits that have already proved valuable.
“We’re at about the same square footage, but we gained great parking, easy client access, double entry doors, a back door, and it allowed us to lay out the store a little differently,” he explained.
PostNet, which began as a packing and shipping business in Las Vegas in 1993, franchised and expanded its business offerings to include printing, design solutions, office services including copy, scan and fax machines, as well as a wide range of shipping services, and mailbox rentals.
Due to COVID-19, customers with mailboxes now have the option of having mail forwarded to another address, such as their home.
And in the age of social distancing, many of the office services can be completed remotely, including having printed projects shipped or picked up curbside.
Distancing of customers within the stores themselves is also maintained.
“We’re all privately-owned and operated franchises so each location can offer different services,” Moeller explained. “We focus on printing and offering marketing to B2B (Business to Business).”
Brochures, business cards, signage, and of course, banners can be printed at the Moeller’s Ahwatukee and Chandler PostNet stores.
Fingerprinting services are also available, a growing need in the community said Aaron Moeller.
“Basically, any industry that now requires a fingerprint card for background, and there are a lot that now require it, we can provide the standard card for them,” he said.
“In a month we do anywhere between 90-120 at each of our locations. It’s not usually by appointment, but with COVID 19 going on, we’ve had to limit fingerprinting to essential service customers and only at our Ahwatukee store.
Information: postnet.com or 480-753-4160.