ECHO PARK — For coffee lovers Janine Awan and her husband Saadat, starting Woodcat Coffee shop in Echo Park was a dream come to life, but having a small business during a pandemic has been more of a nightmare.

“With Covid it’s just kind of compounded,” says Janine. “There is more and more and more things to have to worry about, and have to think about, and have to spend money on.”

What You Need To Know

  • Having a small business during a pandemic has been more of a nightmare for Janine Awan and her husband Saadat

  • They tried to weather the blow by selling some of their coffee, teas and mugs online

  • Delays in package delivery with the USPS is affecting their customers and margins

  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy assured Americans that the USPS will meet expecations for the upcoming presidential election

When the pandemic hit, sales dropped by more than a third. So they tried to weather the blow by selling some of their coffee, teas and mugs online.

“We were sort of forced to quickly put it together in March and April so we could make a little more money for our business,” said Janine.

But USPS has proved unreliable when it comes to delivering their products.

“We mailed a few packages to South Carolina, North Carolina, DC and Pennsylvania, last week, or two weeks ago and they still have yet to arrive, and we paid for first class postage so that everything would get there in two days,” says Janine.

USPS is really the only option for Woodcat Coffee, as other service providers are too expensive for them to meet their margins:

“It’s affecting us, it’s affecting our customers, I mean it’s a total domino effect.”

The delays are part of cost-cutting measures USPS is taking after reporting more than $2 billion in losses in April, May and June. But the delays in service are sparking new concerns about a possible impact on the election.

In response, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy sent us the following Statement:

“The United States Postal Service will play a critical role this year in delivering election mail for millions of voters across the country. There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether the Postal Service is ready, willing and able to meet this challenge.

I want to make a few things clear:

The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall. Even with the challenges of keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy as they operate amid a pandemic, we will deliver the nation’s election mail on time and within our well-established service standards. The American public should know that this is our number one priority between now and election day. The 630,000 dedicated women and men of the Postal Service are committed, ready and proud to meet this sacred duty.

I am announcing today the expansion of our current leadership taskforce on election mail to enhance our ongoing work and partnership with state and local election officials in jurisdictions throughout the country. Leaders of our postal unions and management associations have committed to joining this taskforce to ensure strong coordination throughout our organization. Because of the unprecedented demands of the 2020 election, this taskforce will help ensure that election officials and voters are well informed and fully supported by the Postal Service.

I came to the Postal Service to make changes to secure the success of this organization and its long-term sustainability. I believe significant reforms are essential to that objective, and work toward those reforms will commence after the election. In the meantime, there are some longstanding operational initiatives — efforts that predate my arrival at the Postal Service — that have been raised as areas of concern as the nation prepares to hold an election in the midst of a devastating pandemic. To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded.
I want to assure all Americans of the following:

  • Retail hours at Post Offices will not change
  • Mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are
  • No mail processing facilities will be closed
  • And we reassert that overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed
  • In addition, effective Oct. 1, we will engage standby resources in all areas of our operations, including transportation, to satisfy any unforeseen demand

  • I am grateful for the commitment and dedication of all the men and women of the Postal Service, and the trust they earn from the American public every day, especially as we continue to contend with the impacts of COVID-19. As we move forward, they will have the full support of our organization throughout the election.”

    But those affected say the changes need to be rolled back, not just suspended, if we’re going to have a useful postal service.

    “How are we supposed to earn money for our small business if we can’t properly fulfill orders?” asks Janine.

    After all, Janine says, a functional post office is essential for the survival of many small businesses.