Boxing up business: The UPS Store draws Thumb customers

IMG_0075FRANKENMUTH — Doug Lupcke packs and ships items from The UPS Store, his new business at 481 N. Main St., across from the McDonald’s restaurant, in Frankenmuth.

But customers say he also delivers a smile and a pleasant attitude.

“He always has a smile on his face. Actually, I call him ‘Smiley,’” said Pam Loiacano, 50, of Frankenmuth Township, visiting The UPS Store on Wednesday with her daughter, Hannah, 18.

“We’re spending Christmas in Florida so we’re mailing our presents there ahead of time,” Pam Loiacano said.

Lupcke, of Frankenmuth Township, owner of the business that opened June 1, can smile at the steady flow of traffic during holiday shipping season. It also doesn’t hurt that the business operates in the tourist town of Frankenmuth, with no shortage of shops selling gifts — that are often, well, shipped.

“It most definitely does help,” Doug Lupcke said. “The hotels and the local businesses are starting to know that we’re here now and realize the different things that we do.”

But customers arrive from a broader area that includes Tuscola County, he said. Other locations of The UPS Store are in Clio, and near Bay City and Saginaw.

Genny Hartwick of Tuscola County’s Juniata Township entered Lupcke’s Frankenmuth store Wednesday to wrap a birthday present she wanted shipped to her daughter, Dr. Sarah Hartwick, a 2007 Caro High School graduate who works at a Yale University hospital in Connecticut.

“I like this store because I don’t have to drive to Saginaw to ship things, and (Lupcke) is great,” Hartwick said. “My sister and I went to an estate sale in October and she fell in love with this lamp. She bought it, but it was very oddly-shaped, and (Lupcke) packaged it using bubble wrap and it was great.

“We laughed, because the box was as tall as you are. It was a big box.”

The 1,474-square-foot store, located in the Bavarian Mall, is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

“If you want something packed and shipped, and you don’t want to pack it, you bring it to us and we’ll pack it for you using all the proper materials that are needed, and ship it so the package arrives safely,” Lupcke said.

The UPS store recently served a Caro woman moving to Kentucky.

“She brought in her pictures, her computers and her TVs — things she thought were very fragile and she didn’t want to put on a delivery moving truck,” Lupcke said. “We packed it all up for her and she got it all shipped to her, and she was very happy and pleased.”

The business also carries office supplies and packaging supplies, engraves products, prints business cards, and rents boxes where customers can receive mail. The business also ships freight — items weighing more than 150 pounds.

“I had a guy call me from Florida two weeks after I opened, and he had surgery and couldn’t drive back (to Michigan),” Lupcke said. “He asked if I could ship his car back here, and lo and behold, three days later his car arrived here on a flatbed.”

The store also sells postage stamps and greeting cards.

“People who send a package will say ‘I forgot a greeting card’ and will buy one and include it in the package,” Lupcke said. Rob Handeyside, 69, of Frankenmuth came to the store Wednesday, where workers helped Handeyside crop a photo of his children before creating copies of the photo. Handeyside said workers at The UPS Store assisted him on an earlier visit when he sought to return a Bose portable stereo/compact disc player for repairs.

“They packaged it and they were really nice and they were really fast,” Handeyside said. “They packed it up and they explained things to me, because I had some different emails from Bose, and (The UPS Store workers) explained the one that I should use with the return mail.”

Lupcke retired May 1 as a director of operations for McDonald’s Corp., where he worked for 36 years and, most recently, oversaw corporation-owned restaurants in a region of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. His wife, Cindy Lupcke, still works for McDonald’s Corp. as a field service manager overseeing 150 privately-owned restaurants in a region including the Thumb area.

Doug Lupcke once managed the Caro McDonald’s restaurant in the mid-1980s. His wife managed that same restaurant in the late 1980s. The couple’s son, Zebulon, 14, occasionally works at The UPS Store in Frankenmuth.

“I’ve always wanted to own my own business. If it wasn’t a McDonald’s (restaurant), it was going to be something different,” Doug Lupcke said. “I just stumbled on to the UPS franchise — the company has been around for 109 years and has a great track record and a great history, and this is something totally different than what I’ve done in the past.

“I like their concept and I like their process, and I knew that it would be a good fit not only for Frankenmuth itself but also for the surrounding communities, because we do get a lot of traffic from the Millington, Vassar, Caro and Reese areas, along with Birch Run and Bridgeport.”

The UPS Store offers a “pack and ship guarantee” that reimburses customers — and pays packaging costs and shipping charges — for items damaged or lost in transit if packed at the store and shipped by UPS.

“It’s kind of like a peace of mind we provide during the holiday season,” said Kirk Yackle of Frankenmuth Township, a store employee packing various items for shipment on Wednesday.

“A lot of these gifts are going to grandchildren and, say, nieces or nephews the (senders) haven’t seen in a long time,” Yackle said.

Tom Gilchrist is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at gilchrist@tcadvertiser.com

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