Jan. 29, 2018 – West Bend, WI – After 23 years in business Kathy Keehn, owner of Pak-N-Ship/Mail Drop, 823 S. Main Street, is closing at the end of this month.
The family-owned business in West Bend is one of a kind. “I should have kept a diary,” said Keehn. “I was like a bartender. I’d talk to the customers and hear their stories. Those were cherished times.”
Over the past few weeks Keehn’s been savoring moments with long-time customers and breaking the news about how she will close Jan. 31.
The decision has been difficult, but Keehn said it’s time.
Over the years Keehn has packed and shipped some pretty memorable items including a bouquet of lilacs. “They sent them to a lady in Germany and I tried to talk the customer out of it ,” she said. “The customer said it was the meaning that counts, even though they arrived dead and wilted.”
Potato chips were sent overseas, Keehn wrapped and shipped a Christmas tree and there was an attempt to ship live snakes. “That was kind of creepy,” said Keehn. “It was also illegal; thankfully I caught it before I mailed it.”
The Elvis collection has also taken on a life of its own at Pak-n-Ship. What started as a gift of an Elvis jigsaw puzzle then turned into “what looks like I’m an Elvis fanatic.”
Elvis shot glasses, match books, calendars, posters, and gifts. “I just can’t put a price on them or sell them,” said Keehn.
She dubs herself ‘The Elvis Lady.’
Keehn picked up the business in 1995 when she purchased it from Paul Otto. “His business was on Seventh Avenue and Hickory near the Post Office,” said Keehn. “I was there about a year and then moved to the corner of Highway 33 and Main, next to M&I Bank (now BMO Harris.)”
After that Keehn came to the strip mall in the Decorah Shopping Center and purchased the franchise called Post Net.
“I kept the name the previous owners had, which was Pak-N-Ship, and just stayed until now. It’s been a good run but it’s going to be hard to leave my customers,” she said.
Over the years Keehn has seen a huge shift in the industry. “When I started you couldn’t even get your own account number for FedEx or UPS unless you did a certain volume,” she said. “With the advent of eBay and selling online, now a lot of people are using their own account numbers and it’s just a sign of the times.”
Keehn said Amazon has really changed everything and she feels caught in a catch 22 with the new standards. “Because my store is an authorized ship center or drop off I get knocked on things where I used to make money,” she said. “I don’t blame people… I wouldn’t want to pay extra either.”
Keehn feels fortunate she’s at an age where she can retire. “It’s a bittersweet time,” she said.
In retirement Keehn plans to spend time with her “six beautiful grandkids.”
On a history note: When Keehn first moved to the Decorah Shopping Center strip mall there were some old-school tenants. Blockbuster was on the corner where O’Reilly’s Auto Parts is located. Rose Marie’s Hair Design, Starship and First Weber was next door where Pooch Palace is located. Anytime Fitness made a brief appearance and next door to the south was Merle Norman where Sweet Creations is located.