Dallas’ gayest UPS Store readies for the holiday rush at its big new digs on Cedar Springs
Busy city sidewalks are dressed in holiday style. So is the gayborhood’s new The UPS Store, which is festooned with twinkling Christmas lights, cardboard-box ornaments and parcels decorated with that silver-fox bear, Santa. On Oct. 16, UPS moved into its newer and bigger location — the space that used to be The Barking Frog antique boutique.
"Some customers tell us the building was a gym in 1978-1979. We’ve also heard that it was The Melrose Hotel’s old carriage house," says Thom Dance, a 20-year UPS veteran and the gay owner of five metroplex UPS stores.
"But this store is the gayest. All of our employees are gay. And that means we have fun here — we really engage with our customers," says manager Brice Turner, who points out a handsome young UPS associate’s "Expert Packaging" T-shirt.
In 1999, Dance opened Mailboxes Etc., a 2,000-square-foot space in the tiny strip mall just a few doors down. In 2001, Mailboxes Etc. became a UPS franchise. The new space is 36,000 square feet. Behind the counter, an adorable boyish lesbian slices foam padding the size of a king comforter that will protect a McDonalds drive-thru sign.
Customers primarily use UPS for packaging and boxing. "We’re close to the Dallas Design District, so we ship a lot of fragile antiques," Turner explains.
They’re used to unusual items, including silicone breasts. Turner says they recently shipped a work of art that sold at a local auction house for $750,000. Dance doesn’t want to offer too many details, but one customer tried to ship some weed to Wisconsin — wrapped in mustard, coffee, bubble wrap, birthday wrapping paper and about five other layers of shizzle, and the sender still got busted.
Dance says the Cedar Springs location is one of UPS’ Top 10 performing stores: "The difference is all about customer service. The U.S. postal service is a government agency. "
Even if a certified package is lost in the U.S. Postal Service, you can wade through local, regional and federal levels of corporate agents and still end up in dead-letter hell — with nothing.
"If there is a problem with UPS, you come directly to us. If a package is lost we personally file the claim, and we’ll try to find proof of value," Dance says.
The UPS on Cedar Springs also has 386 P.O. boxes. Many are used by locals, who run private businesses out of their home. Since The UPS Store has a street address, they can accept deliveries from companies like Fed-EX for their customers.
They’ve braved many holiday rushes over the years. This year’s economy has made an impact. They’re expecting an increase since people may not be traveling during the gift-giving season.
"This year, I’ve noticed that parcels are smaller," Turner says. "And more people are re-using packaging material."
GET IT THERE ON TIME
The UPS Store, 3824 Cedar Springs Rd.
Holiday shipping deadlines: Dec 25 falls on a Thursday.
Ground: no later than Dec. 15; 3-day select, no later than Dec. 19; 2nd-day air, no later than Dec. 22; Next-day air, no later than Dec. 23. 214-520-0005. TheUPSstore.com/3821.htm
EQUINOX FITNESS RESOLUTION?
That huge Equinox gym (the old Mercedes Benz dealership) that’s under construction on Oak Lawn Avenue opens Feb 3. It promises to be impeccably clean, high-def everything with the ultimate in spa stuff. They’ll have rooms for yoga, boxing, cycling, pilates, strength training and a superlong indoor saltwater lap pool. But no racquet or B-ball courts. They say the location is in Highland Park, so there will also be a children’s area.
There will be two men’s locker rooms (furnished with Molton Brown products): One locker room is for the hoi polloi; the other is for executive dudes, who’ll — get this — gain entry via a retinal scanner.
• "Select" membership: initiation, $525; monthly $139.
• "Dallas Access" membership: initiation, $525, monthly $149.
• "All Access" membership: initiation, $645, Monthly $170.
Equinox advisor Jennifer Leftwich says discount charter memberships are available right now, but the closer they get to cutting the red ribbon, those discounts will fluctuate. So to save more, y’all should join early.
Equinox Highland Park, 4023 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-443-9009.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 12, 2008.