North Country UPS Store buried in business - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

North Country UPS Store buried in business

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A North Country business owner is trying to bring his recent success to Plattsburgh.

"It's been growing gradually growing year by year, the exponential growth took place in the last few years," Michael Lira said.

Lira opened a UPS store on Smithfield Boulevard a little over a year ago, with the idea of modeling it after his store in Ogdensburg, just south of Ottawa.

"I knew it would be a nice service, never thought it would be this big," Lira said.

He bought the store in Ogdensburg in 2003. A short time after opening the store just south of the Canadian border, large priced items started stacking up.

"Tires, electronics, clothing, kids' clothing, diapers, dog pens, car parts, motorcycles," he said.

Canadians were having the items shipped there and then coming across the border to pick them up.

"That got me thinking. So, I started going to Ottawa three times a week just handing out business cards," Lira said.

They were saving money on international shipping fees and were able to purchase items at cheaper prices in the U.S.

"Some of the U.S. websites won't ship to Canada. So, you can order from the U.S. websites and have it shipped, and it's about a 45-minute drive from Ottawa. And the other thing is savings, depending what you are buying, there is significant savings that way," said James Cartwright, who lives in Canada.

The UPS store charges just $5 to accept the package from the retailer. And during the holiday season, the store in Ogdensburg has become overwhelmed with deliveries.

"I drove over this morning expecting to be in and out; it was a two-hour wait," said Jennifer Menard, who lives in Canada.

About 1,000 packages a day are picked up. And last weekend, the store stayed open seven hours later than usual to accommodate everyone.

"It's a good problem to have, but no business owner wants to offer bad customer service," Lira said.

He is hoping for similar success in Plattsburgh, with Montreal about an hour away. His store in Ogdensburg served 80,000 customers this year; 98-percent were Canadians.

"The Montreal crowd is two and a half times the size of Ottawa. I know I can't service all of them; getting a piece of that pie would be nice," Lira said.

A business owner hoping to cash in on Canadians who want to get their hands on goods at affordable prices.

Lira says independent online sellers in Canada are also using his store frequently to expand their clientele, so they can ship goods to customers in the United States at more affordable prices.

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