PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM
Last month, the Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce chose Mammoth Business Essentials (MBE) as its business of the year.
MBE is the post office alternative and has its own mailboxes and authorization to ship with UPS, FedEx, and USPS. It’s also an office supply store – copies, keys, etc. – and is fueled by friendliness.
“People come in, and they’re like, ‘We love coming into your business because it’s just a really nice vibe,’” says Sam Taylor, owner and main notary of MBE. “We always want to help people out. We always are very patient … sometimes business stuff can get really stressful, and a lot of people just enjoy coming in here because we’re friendly, we like to chat, and we like to help people out as best we can.”
Of course, underneath that layer of friendliness is a business that has lived up to its name: MBE is essential for what it offers the community of Mammoth Lakes.
“Our box holders here are able to receive postal products as well as FedEx and UPS,” says Taylor. “We’re also kind of the main drop off point in Mammoth Lakes for anything that’s pre-labeled or needs to go out with UPS or FedEx.”
Can’t get something shipped to your PO Box and worried that your package might not make it to your apartment’s door? MBE has you covered.
“UPS and FedEx won’t deliver to a lot of different addresses in town for whatever reason,” says Taylor, adding that “some people just like having a secure place that [their package] can sit, where they know someone’s gonna sign for it. They know it’s not sitting out in the snow or anything.”
The original owners of Mammoth Business Essentials opened the shop’s doors in 1995. In 2018, Marsha and Craig Hansen approached Taylor, who’d been working for the store for about three and a half years. He was a manager and notary at the time.
“They said, ‘Hey, we’re looking to sell the business, and we wanted to start by asking someone who’s been here.’” So, we worked out a deal for me to take over, and I’ve been the owner since the beginning of 2019.
Taylor was a bit shocked. “I grew up her e… and I loved the area and I just wanted to be able to be here and be able to have a steady job where I’d be able to pay my rent … and do all the things I loved to do in Mammoth.”
Now, he’s been running Mammoth Business Essentials for three years. The shop’s secret sauce that makes it last? Casting a wide and indispensable net. “One week, we’ll be making keys. One week, it’ll be a whole bunch of copies. One week, it’ll be a bunch of notarizations – it’s just kind of all over the place how it falls, but it always will keep us busy,” says Taylor. “And, being the main port to ship anything out – where the next closest one is really Bishop – also helps keep us busy in here.”
Taking ownership of a store with a more than two decade local history is a daring feat. There’s culture to preserve and customers to keep happy. “I didn’t want to let the old owners down,” says Taylor. “I didn’t want to let the community down. There’s definitely a balance when a business has been around for so long… there’s a certain kind of expectation of what [long-time customers are going to get.”
Taylor made sure not to implement changes that would disrupt that expectation. But, often, change is necessary. Taylor’s implemented “little changes in pricing that we feel are a little bit more fair” alongside “a waitlist for mailboxes” at the store. “Kind of small things that aren’t huge but make a difference,” Taylor says. “Little [changes]… like how we check in packages to keep ourselves organized so we know where everything is.”
With the rise in online shopping sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, getting on top of package logistics has been a top priority.
As for the labor shortage that has proved a challenge for many businesses in Mammoth, Taylor’s been lucky. He’s found local employees looking for year-round work, which, luckily, MBE can provide. “It really helps us out that we’re not a seasonal business, and that we are open steadily Monday through Friday and Saturday, and we’re here all year long.”
While the business sees some shoulder season in October, the package boom come Christmas time is more than enough business to stay afloat.
“I think the community really appreciates what we do,” Taylor says. “If we disappeared, there’s a lot that this town suddenly wouldn’t have available to them.”
Congratulations, Mammoth Business Essentials. I’ll be picking up a package soon.