This story has been updated to include a quote from the store's owner.
Last month, Brandon Castillo, owner of Deep Ellum Postal and Grocer in Dallas, reached out to his community for help. He launched an IndieGoGo campaign in hopes of raising funds to revamp his business from a failed grocery store into a beer and wine retail shop.
But as of May 4, the store, which also houses personal mailboxes, has shuttered, according to a post on its Facebook page.
Deep Ellum Postal and Grocer "closed abruptly," the note says, encouraging its patrons to change their mailing addresses.
Mark Kelcher, a local businessman who owns the spot at 3100 Main St., said he had to lock the building because Castillo hasn't paid rent since October.
"I met with him in November, and I talked to him on the phone in February, and he has been dodging my phone calls, letters, emails, Facebook messages since," Kelcher says. "I felt horrible about it, but I’m paying mortgage on a building with six months no rent."
Opened more than 15 years ago, Deep Ellum Postal and Grocer is a hybrid convenience store and mail center with personal boxes and shipping services. When Castillo bought the business in 2013, he hoped to offer residents a place to buy groceries without getting in a car, but the demand wasn't there. When we previously spoke to Castillo, he said it was imperative he shift his business model.
Castillo says he has been dealing with some family matters that required "a lot of bandwidth," and that he hoped to have the IndieGoGo campaign in play sooner.
"The whole time I was denial that i could handle it, I could juggle all these balls because I've always been able to do it in the past. But this proved I wasn’t able to do that," he says. "I had my head in the sand and wasn’t prepared for, you know, what happens to all these people when the store closes."
Conner Farrall, an employee of almost three years, says he had no idea about the situation.
"I love that place and the people and the neighborhood," Farrall says. "I wish I had known so I could’ve tried to help."
Comments on the Facebook page suggest people who have mailboxes were also given no warning.
"We have had this mailbox for 20 years, and it’s wreaking havoc on our lives that we, as you put it, simply need to 'change our mailing address,'" says one comment. "This is not a simple solution."
Deep Ellum Postal and Grocer's crowdfunding campaign is still active until May 19, but Castillo fully intends on refunding the money.
"My biggest regret is letting people down who depended on me to keep everything up," he adds. "Thank you for the support that I've received all these years."
If you need to gain access to your mailbox:
Those who used Deep Ellum Postal and Grocer as a mailbox and need to gain access to their mail may email Mark Kelcher at email@example.com. He suggests doing so ASAP, as early next week he is returning unclaimed mail to the post office where it will be returned to sender.