Minority owned packaging store still thriving 27 years later

Minority owned packaging store still thriving 27 years later
September 21
08:45 2017

While businesses at every level come and go, not many entrepreneurs have been working for themselves as long as Eli Bradley, owner and founder of Eli Pack & Ship, formerly known as Thruway’s Packaging Store. Bradley has been in business for nearly three decades.

Before he could buy a drink at a bar, or get behind the wheel of a car, Eli Bradley knew he was going to be an entrepreneur. Even as a fourth-grader, he proved he had the knowledge to run a business by saving and investing the weekly allowance he received from his mother and aunt. Bradley said he turned that weekly $2 allowance into the business he owns today.

“They gave me money and I flipped it. My mom showed me how to budget,” Bradley said.

When he opened his package and shipping store in the Thruway Shopping Center, he was the first black tenant. Bradley said, while big name stores like UPS and FedEx get credit for being the first packaging and shipping stores, it was independent owners like himself who started the trend.

He said, “People always say UPS was the first ones to do this, but it was us. We’re the original.”

After breaking down racial barriers in the Thruway Shopping Center, located on Stratford Road, a few years later Bradley did the same thing inside Hanes Mall, when he became the first black tenant there. Since getting into the shipping business in 1990, Bradley has served millions of customers and made shipments, moves, and deliveries across the country. During Maya Angelou’s time spent between the Twin City and New York, Eli’s Pack & Ship served as her official movers. Bradley’s company was also responsible for moving some of her archives to the Shoenburg Institute in New York.

Although he has experienced a lot of success in the business, Bradley has also seen his fair share of shady business dealings as well. He said shortly after moving inside the mall, the post office took his business model and offered Hanes Mall $35,000 for a spot.

“They were not even sure if people would go to the mall to mail things. After sitting down with me and finding out I was making money, they went behind my back and offered the mall $35,000.”

Despite a few setbacks, Bradley is still in the business today. A lot has changed since 1990, including the packaging and shipping business, but Bradley has been able to adjust to stand the test of time. With small, medium, and large size trucks, Bradley says he can ship anything that’s not breathing.

When discussing the current state of minority owned businesses, specifically entrepreneurship in the black community, Bradley said its time we go back to the old time when everyone looked out for each other and showed support. He mentioned often times in the black community, we don’t stand together.

He said, “If you put out good vibes, you will be successful. It’s old school basic business principles, true service.”

When asked what’s next for Eli’s Pack & Ship, Bradley said it hasn’t been revealed to him yet, but he would love to take his company international. He named a few spots he would love to see. Bradley said he is also working on a book he hopes to release next year.

“I’m pleased with what I do now. I keep my own hours, I stay physically fit, I get to travel. That suits me,” continued Bradley. “I wish I was rich enough to go international because I really want to go see places like Egypt and Dubai.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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