Debbie Anday started Stash Spot in March to hopefully solve an issue that has become more common since the start of the pandemic: people stealing unattended packages from resident’s porches and stoops. These so-called “porch pirates” are rarely caught, but frustrate residents regardless.
Similar to a post office box, Stash Spot, at 533 E Girard Ave., is a brick and mortar storefront where Fishtown and Northern Liberties residents can have their packages delivered. Residents are notified when something is delivered andpick it up when they are ready. Anday said by focusing just on packages, Stash Spot can offer a more efficient alternative to a post office box.
Anday and her family own the building Stash Spot is in. They pride themselves on expressing their artistic side as well as their community values through their space. All the art in Stash Spot is painted by Anday’s husband and changes frequently. She is also gathering art from kids in the community to display.
Anday talked about her goals for the business and why it is important for a business to stay involved in the community.
How did the idea of Stash Spot come to be?
This is my first investment property. I was looking for something that was like a neighborhood service, that the neighborhood really needed and that would have longevity. So that’s how Stash Spot came about.
How were you confident in the fact that Stash Spot was going to be a service that this community needed?
So I live actually in Port Richmond, and during COVID I think I did all of my shopping online. But unfortunately, a lot of times things would get delivered, and even when I’d be home, they wouldn’t even knock on the door. So there’s a big thing that happens down here. It’s called the “porch pirates.” People just like taking stuff off your steps. So that started to happen to me. And so I started to look for service, and I Googled and there’s a service in South Philly called Fishbox, and the owner of that is Napoleon Suarez. He and I became really good friends and I told him that I wanted to do something here in Fishtown. He said, “I think that’s a great idea,” and he helped consult on the projects. And, yes, that’s how we opened.
Obviously, COVID-19 is still ongoing and I’m sure that affected your plans while planning to open. How did the pandemic affect your business, whether in a positive or negative way?
I think that COVID has affected our business, I would say in a positive way. I think that online sales have been really rising, so people are really starting to use our services more just for their packages. So I think that it’s actually helped.
Coming from a family-owned standpoint in which expression is really important to you, how are you able to bring your values and personalities to the business?
I think that we’re all artists. I think we like to really spread that within the community. Currently, I’m working on a larger project. My son is autistic, and [April is] autism awareness month, so we have these tiles that we have these kids are drawing and painting on, and we’re going to do mosaic outside. So these are some of the pieces, but we have about 50 to 70 pieces that we’re going to put outside. I wanted the children in the neighborhood to feel like to be able to come here and look at their artwork and be really proud of it.
Being as Stash Spot has a large focus on the community, what kind of other things do you offer besides mail-related services & goods?
We are artists and we really push that a lot. I think that what we are hoping to do is to be a little bit more involved in the artist community. We have so many great local artists here, and a lot of people don’t get to necessarily show a lot of their pieces. So eventually we want to start doing First Fridays.
We want to definitely help, especially children. My daughter goes to school, so I’ve been involved with the director of art in her school and offering our space to do art shows for the high school students and things like that. So that’s kind of where we’re going with the summer coming up. I definitely want to do some things outside where it might just be like, again, something for local artists to sell their goods. Also, I want to do things with the kids on Saturday mornings to do just different crafts and things like that.
Providing a mail service, how do you stand apart from more traditional services such as P.O Boxes?
Well, so PO boxes are interesting, and I didn’t really know that until we started. Post office boxes can only accept packages and things from services like UPS, DHL, FedEx, and the mail service. Some services can’t deliver to your post office box. So that’s number one.
Number two, you’re used to these post office boxes having that little key and you’re having, like, that little thing for your letters. When you get a larger package, you have to wait in line and ask them for it. I love our local post office, but they are so far behind. So many people have been calling out. So where it used to be really convenient, I don’t think it’s as convenient as it used to be.
What are you thinking in terms of the future of Stash Spot and it’s role in the community?
Stash Spot is a service for the community, but as we’ve spoken, it means a lot more to us. It’s something that I think that we want to expand in different parts of Philadelphia, maybe some other I’ve been looking at other areas like Detroit and Chicago for investing in, so yes, I like the fact that it could still be a service but still feel like a community. Things happen so quickly. There’s so many restaurants and bars that come and go, but I hope that that spot stays forever.
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