Vikki and Terry Wilkins: owners of The UPS Store
About eight months from now, Vikki and Terry Wilkins are sure to be at the head of the long line of people who are thrilled and relieved the new Duval County Courthouse is finally open.
Owners and operators of The UPS Store at 221 N. Hogan St., the couple left their regular jobs behind eight years ago to start their own business.
They chose the location largely because of its proximity to the new center of justice, which was expected to open within a couple of years at most.
“We wanted to work together and at the time, the courthouse was supposed to be open soon,” said Vikki Wilkins.
The first day they unlocked the doors and turned on the lights was Oct. 13, 2003. The couple soon realized that without the expected influx of businesses surrounding the courthouse, they’d have to be creative to keeps those lights lit.
They have added many elements beyond the expected packing and shipping services. The store has 300 post office boxes, and Terry takes the mail to the General Mail Center every day at 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. The big brown truck picks up the day’s outgoing boxes and overnight UPS envelopes at 6 p.m.
The store also offers notary public and fingerprint services and a few years ago, the Wilkenses went into the copying business, including a wide format printer for blueprints and site plans.
That has proven to be a popular product in the store across the street from the City’s planning and building permit offices in the Ed Ball Building.
“We’re seeing a lot more of that business lately. They must be issuing more permits,” Vikki said.
The UPS Store is an approved vendor for counterfeit-proof prescription pads required since July 1 by state law to be used by licensed health care practitioners who prescribe controlled substances.
“We’re one of just nine approved vendors in Jacksonville and the only approved UPS Store in Florida,” said Vikki.
They are also active in neighborhood issues. Vikki has been co-chair of the Sector A Sheriff’s Advisory Council and is often a block away from the store at City Hall for meetings concerning Downtown improvements.
In particular, they lobbied for the change to 30-minute parking meters on the block of Hogan Street between Adams and Monroe streets.
“That really helped our business,” she said.
The wait for the ribbon-cutting at the new courthouse has been a lot longer than anticipated, but there are encouraging signs.
“The Public Defender’s Office already leased a post office box and the City moving more departments into the Ed Ball Building and the Jake Godbold Building is helping us,” Vikki said.
“We’re not like a restaurant. People don’t need every day what we do. We have to diversify our business to survive and we need more people close by,” she said.