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USPS moves post office in small North Idaho city to a van

Since last June, USPS has been conducting operations out of a specialty van parked in the Latah County city of roughly 500 people.

DEARY, Idaho — Deary's temporary post office is unique, to say the least.

The office is able to send and receive mail, consists of a service window, and houses a US Postal Service employee. What sets the facility apart, however, is the fact that it's located on four wheels.

Since last June, USPS has been conducting operations out of a specialty van parked in the Latah County city of roughly 500 people. The move was prompted after the agency determined that the building that housed the former post office was no longer suitable.

USPS spokesman Ernie Swanson confirmed that the former USPS facility, located on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Main Street in Deary, was in need of significant maintenance. The apparently old brick building now sits vacant.

Called a mobile retail van, the temporary office is still able to send and receive mail and parcels. Customers are still able to pick up stamps and conduct other business at the site as well.

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Swanson didn't provide a timeline on when the USPS might move to a temporary home, but confirmed that the agency was planning to move to an existing building in Deary or purchase land and build a new facility. Swanson confirmed that decisions would be made "in the near future."

"It was kind of hard to find it at first. They moved around a little bit," said Deary resident Danielle Paris of the mobile retail van. 

Paris said postal service has remained unchanged for her, but she was still looking forward to the return of a traditional post office building.

Some residents were initially surprised by the van and it's initial multiple locations in Deary, Paris explained. 

"They'd say, 'Oh, I feel like I need to go up there and order a taco or something,'" chuckled Paris, referencing the van's similarity to a food truck.

Other Deary residents were less enthused about the temporary situation.

"It's just totally ridiculous," said Darrell Davis. "It's the stupidity of those in the hierarchy of the postal system, that they would allow this to happen first. And secondly, that they can't get something taken care of before September of this year."

Davis alleged that USPS officials knew about the old age and condition of the former post office for some time.

"The biggest impact that I have is now I can only pick up mail if and when they're open," he said.

Davis said that while he was frustrated with the decision, he applauded the efforts of local USPS staff and their operation of the mobile post office. 

"I can't complain at all to them. They're going over the top with efforts to try to do this," he said.

“We do ask our customers to bear with us,” Swanson said in a statement to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. “We know it’s probably not terribly convenient for them, but (it’s) one of those things we have to work our way through.”

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