You've been away on a trip and on your return you go to your mailbox to find all of your mail for the past two weeks waiting safe and secure.
Now it's possible, thanks to a new design by a Colorado woman.
It's no longer necessary to ask the post office to hold your mail or to impose on the next door neighbor. Today there is a mailbox that protects your mail from the moment the postman delivers it to the time you are ready to remove it.
The inventor is Norma (Jean) Fitzgerald of Lafayette, Colo., who has applied for a patent on her design. Her company, Trail Side Mailbox Inc., produces a mailbox that is not only handsome, durable and secure, but features an exclusive locked storage bin that will hold up to two weeks of average mail delivery.
Fitzgerald came up with the idea three years ago when she and her husband, Virgil, returned on a Saturday afternoon from a few days away from home. They had asked the local post office to hold their mail.
The Fitzgeralds, like many of us, thought it would be so much nicer if they could find their mail waiting for them when they returned from out of town instead of having to wait for the post office to open and make a trip there to pick it up. It was then that Norma Fitzgerald drew a design for a mailbox that could be easily converted into a locked storage container.
She asked her brother, Doyle Halterman, supervisor of a sheet metal company in Denver, to build a galvanized steel model following her design. After a battery of tests, including a dunk in salt water, her design was approved by the postmaster general's office.
The top portion of the box is a conventional open-and-shut mailbox, which converts to a locked storage area by simply lowering a metal door. Other features of Fitgerald's suburban/rural mailboxes are weatherproofing, a recessed upper door and tapered front, a locking flag and dust-protected cam locks.
Her Trail Side mailboxes were an instant hit when introduced last October at the National Western Stock Show in Denver and have since brought an enthusiastic response at the Colorado Garden and Home Show and the Los Angeles Home Show, according to Fitgerald.
Two models are currently available, the 1012, which coverts to a locked box, and the 1011, a smaller box, which is always locked. They are not yet available at dealers, but mail orders are being accepted and delivery is by United Parcel Service.
Some buyers have shown a great deal of imagination in mounting their mailboxes, using brick, pottery, stonework and other materials, Fitzgerald says.
Trail Side sells two types of bases, one metal and one concrete slab; both are gray in color. The boxes are painted in weather-resistant gray with postal blue and red, including the words "U.S. Mail."
The bases can be either bolted to concrete or mounted in the ground and anchored in concrete for security and permanency.
Fitzgerald says customers can expect delivery of the convertible boxes in about a week, while the smaller boxes take a week or two longer.
Prices outside Colorado are $229.95 for the convertible model and $149.95 for the smaller model. There is a $12 fee for shipping and handling.
The metal base (for ground installation) sells for $49.95, the concrete base for $79.95, with a $12 fee for shipping and handling.
Trail Side guarantees satisfaction or a full refund within 30 days with return of the product in original condition. Brochures are available by writing to 1893 Stonehenge Drive, Lafayette, Colo. 80026.