Pak Mail – Excellence delivered


Gil Karpel opened Pak Mail Boulder in 1986, the same year the Macintosh Plus computer debuted, and Top Gun was a box office hit.

“We’ve seen major changes and survived it all,” says Gil.

The Village location is the oldest in the Pak Mail franchise, and still consistently ranks among the top 5 stores for business nationally. Gil and his family have been there since day one as the sole owner/operators, perhaps the only constant in an ever-evolving industry.

“It used to be all phone calls and face-to-face conversations, before the advent of the computer or internet,” recalls Gil.

Things like catalog mail orders once made up a large portion of business, but have since been replaced by online systems. Businesses like Amazon continue to change the game by offering free shipping and returns.

Yet, Pak Mail Boulder endures because they have adapted by focusing on specialty services. They have become Boulder’s leading shipping service for artwork, and a premier place for international shipments.

“People have so many options for shipping, but when it’s something unusual, that’s where we help,” says Gil.

Notably, Gil once shipped a 16-foot ocean kayak to Fiji for a NOAA science researcher. In the early 1990s, he even shipped a gas fireplace (purchased at McGuckin’s) to Kuwait via air freight. Unfortunately, the student who purchased it never received his 200-pound novelty thanks to the airport disruption caused by the start of the Gulf War.

“People come in and want to talk to me specifically, like a doctor, and it can be a double-edged sword,” admits Gil. “But I know what I’m doing customs-wise, I’ve shipped to almost every country.”

As a franchise, Pak Mail also provided Gil a lot of autonomy to run his own store and provide excellent service to customers he sees again and again.

“Our business is 1-1 personal relationships,” he noted.

Relationships he maintains with three full-time employees – two of whom have been with him for anywhere from 13 to 20 years. Gil’s two sons also took turns working alongside him as teenagers and throughout college.

“We share a lot of great memories. It was the most time I ever spent with my kids.” recalls Gil.

Not many businesses in the Village have been around longer than Pak Mail, but of the four or five that have, there seems to be a shared formula for success.

“They have remained true to their customers, honest, and stand behind what they do,” says Gil. “The best thing about the Village is the customers. New people, but also so many return customers… it’s a community.”

A community Gil, a New Yorker, whose formal training was as a geologist, initially thought he’d be part of for just a couple years. But Pak Mail had staying power, more than 30 years of it and going strong. As they look ahead, Gil plans to simply “keep focusing on what we do, and doing it well.”