The Amazon Locker at the Speedway at Maple and Miller may be a local bridgehead in the Internet retailer’s plan for global domination, but it doesn’t look very imposing: just a large, dark gray metal box standing against the wall of the gas station’s storage-and-dumpster shed.
It’s not very busy, either. Over the course of two hours one recent early afternoon, just two customers picked up packages. Connie Shammas, a young professional who lives nearby, describes herself as “a heavy Amazon shopper.” She says she’s used the locker regularly ever since one of her packages was stolen from the lobby of her apartment.
A man who doesn’t wish to be named says he’s using the Speedway locker (inexplicably named “Cone,” according to a label in the top corner) for the first time. He likes the way the compartment with his package inside pops right open when he scans a barcode on his phone.
Amazon bought Whole Foods last year, so it’s no suprise that the locker in the high-end grocer’s Cranbrook Village store enjoys better placement—it’s in a corner of the store’s well-lit demonstration kitchen. Rachel Zepeda stops by with her son in tow to pick up some toys she’s ordered. She lives in Ypsilanti and trusts the locker more than the Ypsi post office, which has struggled with lost and delayed mail.
Both UPS and USPS deliver to the lockers. UPS driver Herb Jones says bringing packages to a few concentrated spots instead of individual homes can be easier, but there are limits: “Right now I’ve got 100-pound packages, so I can’t stick them in here.”
USPS carrier Leah Thompson says whether it’s easier or not depends on where she would have to deliver the package otherwise, but either way “it’s hard,” she says. “It’s not easy work. People think it’s easy, but it’s really not.” Many blame the USPS’s 2013 contract with Amazon for its recent struggles to keep up with local package delivery.
Whole Foods employees say they see only a few people a day use the locker. Thompson, Jones, and Zepeda all predict an increase as the holidays approach. But for now, the lockers’ biggest selling point may be the complete lack of any lines.