IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A COW, IT'S A TRAIN, IT'S A ...
Your mailbox can look almost government-issue, or it can have
style, as in pizazz, as in reflecting your imagination, or as in your
shouting, ''Hey, look at me!''
It's your choice.
It can have that art deco look of a racing airplane from the 1920s and
It can look like a railroad locomotive.
Or it can look like a pink flamingo, a holstein cow, a hummingbird, a pig,
a dog or a pink Cadillac.
So far we've offered eight examples of custom mailboxes offered by Ray
Rogers, owner-president-designer-janitor at More-Than-A-Mailbox, Inc., in
More-Than-A-Mailbox offers a total of 40 designs, all created from what
pops into Rogers' brain or what people request.
He even has a tree-frog mailbox. No one requested it, ''but I just had to
do it,'' Rogers says.
More-Than-A-Mailbox is in The Foundry Wharf, at 617B 2nd St. (The front
door is under a painting of a black and white cow, ''The Moona Lisa.'') It's
here that parts for his custom mailboxes -- wings for the airplane, a toothy
jaw for the shark, and the head, legs and tail of a cow -- are hand-cut out of
wood, hand-painted, packed with a postmaster approved mailbox and mailed to
customers in this country and around the world.
Rogers sells a few mailboxes out of the gift shop attached to the
industrial-sized production area, but most sales are through catalog orders
(like the Lillian Vernon catalog) and through gift trade shows.
His cow mailbox is ''the No. 1 seller in the world,'' he says, ''and the
flamingo is the No. 2 seller, nationwide. They are everywhere. It's a big
Of course, no businessperson would be worthy of being called a
businessperson if he or she didn't set higher goals. Rogers' is simple:
''There are 37 million rural mailboxes in the United States and my goal is to
sell one per block. That's all I want.''
Rogers calculates there are about 100 houses on a block (''That's a pretty
big block,'' he admits) which translates into selling 370,000 mailboxes.
Over the past seven years in business, the last two in Petaluma, Rogers and
his crew have sold more than 150,000 mailboxes.
The boxes are $59. ''Mailboxes have a life expectancy of four years,''
Rogers says. ''Some last just two weeks, some 10 years. We offer mail
insurance and also guarantee against mailbox theft or vandalism. The insurance
is free the first year. After that the cost is $5 for one year, $10 for three.
The free, first-year insurance comes with the purchase of the mailbox.''
''It doesn't matter what happens to it,'' Rogers says of the insurance
policy. ''If an alien abducts it or you run over it with your car, we will
replace it for free.
Most of More-Than-A-Mailbox's customers are female homeowners. ''People who
buy our products want other people to identify with them (the customer). They
are saying, 'I love birds' or 'My cat is the most important thing in the
The boxes do require some assembly. For instance, if you order the cow
model, the head, legs and tail are packed inside the mailbox and mailed to
you. You attach the cow parts to the mailbox, working from easy-to-follow
steps sent along with the parts.
Easy-to-follow? Rogers realizes that most people don't follow directions,
so he contracted to have an artist draw a color cartoon panel satirizing guys
who fall into that category.
The point Rogers is making is that anyone can assemble his custom
mailboxes. (The key tools are an Allen key to tighten the screws plus a
smidgeon of patience.)
More-Than-A-Mailbox also makes birdhouses and bird feeders. As well, if
you're looking for a cigar store Indian, totem pole or celestial mobiles,
potato gardens, pepper gardens, three-dimensional puzzles, a Godzilla with a
hot ray coming out its nose or refrigerator magnets that are icons of
something you, your mother or your grandmother have seen (like CocaCola or the
Planters Peanuts symbols), he's got them at his showroom.
More-Than-A-Mailbox's toll-free number is 800-331-3252.