Eli’s Pack and Ship, located at 302-A South Stratford Road in the Thruway Shopping Center is the vision of expert expeditor Eli Bradley. Formerly known as Thruway’s Packaging Store, He has been in business for 23 years. Since its inception in 1990 Eli’s has serviced over 11 million customers.
“We were the first black tenant at Thruway Shopping Center and first black tenant at Hanes Mall. We are also the ones that laid the ground work for the post office being at Hanes Mall because before that we were there, with two locations”, he said. Eli’s is the oldest UPS/Fedex store in the city.
“The concept for pack and ship postal service from independent stores came from California. The concept came from there before the UPS or Fedex stores even existed. There are over 7,000 independent stores in the nation that do what we do, but the initial concept came out of California”, Bradley said.
He was initially drawn to the packing and shipping business because of his background as an expeditor for other companies. “ I am a former expeditor with B/E Aerospace (formerly Fairchild Industries) and Sara Lee Corporation”, said Bradley of his early professional experience. “I knew I would be an entreprenuer from the fourth grade. I used to sign my name S.E. Bradley Inc.. And my friends would pick on me, asking why do you sign your name S.E. Bradley Inc.?! I just thought it was cool because I knew that I would be an entrepreneur one day”, recalls Bradley.
It was actually a trip to Miami that solidified his commitment to starting a packing and shipping enterprise. The Winston-Salem State University Business degree graduate saw an independent store that did packaging. “I thought that fits right along with what my background is. I thought this is the vehicle to take. It was 1990 and I said this is the vehicle to take me from point A to point B.”
Bradley quickly seized the opportunity to bring packing and shipping to Winston-Salem. “The market didn’t even exist here until we brought it to the surface”, he said.
Since then Eli’s Pack and Ship has grown exponentially throughout the last two decades. “ We package and ship anything, any size, anywhere. We’re a global company that happens to be local. We are a company that is total logistics, meaning we know how to get anything from point A to point B..”
That includes furniture, flat screen televisions, heirlooms, antiques, odd things, trucks, or just about anything that needs to be moved. “What distinguishes us from the other stores is that we have the technology and the knowledge to do it”, continued Bradley.
The store prides itself on shipping odd, unconventional items that other shippers wouldn’t accept. “We’ve done a gas pump. Literally, a gas pump that goes in the ground and you pull up in your car to”, mentioned Bradley. His store was also responsible for moving some of Dr. Maya Angelou’s archives out of state. Eli’s Pack and Ship relocated the archives to the Shoenberg Institute in New York. “ It was the most expensive shipment that I have ever done; it was in the millions”, Bradley proudly stated.
He insists that he and his staff are hands-on and that customers will be hard pressed to find better service. “Unlike the other stores that are staffed by teenagers, we’ve got experience, technology, plus knowledge, over our competitors”, said Bradley. “We go out of the way to please our customers. We’re from the old school generation.
“It’s not just computer technology, we have practical experience. We didn’t learn our business from looking at a video like the other stores”, said Bradley. He emphasizes that his store is how customer service used to be, personal. “If you have a problem you can come to ME, not a teenager or an off site manager or an 800 number”, he said.
At Eli’s they couple the one on one attention of their customer service with new technology and approaches to logistics. Eli’s Pack and Ship has been in the logistics business, officially, for the last 15 years. “ We know all of the transportation amenities, we know all of the recommendations to connect our customers. We ship anything that doesn’t breathe. We make boxes. We make crates. We do Foam in Place packaging…”, said Bradley about the list of things that they can do.
Elis’s has also expanded its services from years ago. “We’ve added Small Moves. Meaning we can go all over the country, even to consult people on how to do moves”, he said. His company has done student moves for Wake Forest, Winston-Salem State, Salem College, and Salem Academy.
They have also transitioned their gift wrapping services, which used to be exclusively located at Hanes Mall to the Thruway store location. “ We’re the only gift wrap
facility in the southeast of this magnitude. The closest competitor to us is in Charlotte”, said a proud Bradley. Customers can have their pick of all the major shipping carriers of Fedex, UPS, Postal, and DHL under Eli’s one roof.
“We always have had the global reach, the general public didn’t know that until they came in the store but we’ve always had that capabilities. A lot of Baptist Hospital and Forsyth Medical students and doctors use us because of our global reach. We can recommend any carrier to a customer to get from point A to point B, and we’ve been doing that for the last 15 years”, he said.
India was the last international place that Eli’s had shipped to at the time of this interview. Bradley mentioned that his business is becoming more and more global with technology and the way the world economy is growing.
“They (internationally) recognize DHL more than they do UPS or Fedex. DHL is the number one player in international shipping. And its less costly than the post office. A lot of people don’t know that. They track from point A to point B in real time, that’s something that the post office does not do.”
“ If you pay us to do a job we make sure its done right. We’ve got world knowledge”, Bradley continued. Bradley has taken his years of experience and true passion for expediting, and passes it along to the customer. “Rather than just carrying a franchise name. The franchise name doesn’t carry us. We make things happen on our own instead of relying on their name”, he said.
“Markets are opening up all over the world and we’re going to be on the train right along with them”, Bradley said. From an early age Bradley has been studying businesses and brands, and has incorporated an old school mentality of work ethic and dedication into his business.
“People need to be more aware of businesses like ours instead of just looking for a brand name because brand names do not cover personal service. There’s a sign in our window that says “We take your business personally”, he said. “We mean that literally. My dollar is as important to me as the customer’s dollar is important to him or her.”