We drive down the hill or walk up the street, and there we are, at one of several “Taste of Wheeling” eateries featuring that pizza, or that spaghetti sauce, or that, or that, or that.
However those who are natives of the Upper Ohio Valley but have since moved to another locale often crave those tastes, and for several years they have simply had to the dial the digits to Spry’s Mail Center Plus.
“I know it’s our business, but it really is that easy for the people who now live away from here to take care of those cravings,” said Staci Spry, owner of Spry’s Mail Center Plus in the Woodsdale Plaza near Pappa John’s and Subway. “When we take those calls, I go to the business, buy what they want, and it goes out that same day in many cases.
“We now ship DiCarlo’s Pizza from both the Elm Grove and downtown Wheeling locations. We ship Figaretti’s sauce and Jebbia’s Market fruit baskets, and we also ship Saseen’s salad dressing, and Pizza Villa pizza,” she explained. “There have been some other requests from different businesses like the Ye Olde Alpha, and that’s fine, too.”
It is a service Spry’s offers, and it is service that has been received throughout the United States.
“Throughout the year we probably ship between one and four packages of the products from a number of Wheeling businesses,” explained Spry. “But after Thanksgiving it really picks up for us. At that time of year it’s really one of the only things that I personally work on.
“We have families that want trays of DiCarlo’s Pizza because that’s what they have every year for their dinner on Christmas Eve. It was their family tradition when they lived here, and they want to continue that tradition,” she said. “When they come home that’s where they go. They eat at their favorite DiCarlo’s, and they eat at Coleman’s.”
In fact, Spray confirmed that she is now working with the owners of Coleman’s Fish Market to begin mailing those legendary fish sandwiches.
“Fish is a lot different from pizza or spaghetti sauce, of course, so the packaging is going to be a little different,” she said. “When someone wants Coleman’s delivered, what they will receive are the fillets of fish, and the batter will be on the side. The people who receive the sandwiches will get to bread them and then fry them.
“There’s a little bit of prep work that has to be done with almost every food item that we package with the dry ice and overnight to them, so I’m sure this will be something that the people will do because that’s how badly they want those fish sandwiches,” Spray continued. “We are close to getting those started, and when we do, we plan to do a lot of marketing so we can let the people know.”
Dry ice, proper packaging, and a great relationship with the participating businesses are the three secret ingredients involved with shipping these Wheeling tastes to their destinations, and the customer base includes locals sending gifts to those who have left the area.
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“The pricing depends on what the people want us to ship to them, but I can tell you that there is an expense to it,” Spry explained. “What they pay for is packaging the products because I am the one who goes to those businesses and buys the products, and then, of course, there is the cost of the overnight shipping with the UPS Overnight service.
“We send them as presents from people who still live here, and they want to send their family members or friends those local favorites,” she continued. “People may make the decision to move away for whatever reasons, but it seems as if they do not want to leave behind some of their favorite foods here in Wheeling.”
Spry has remained in Friendly City since growing up on Maple Avenue in the Woodsdale section of Wheeling, but she admits if she ever lived away from the Upper Ohio Valley, she too would be taking advantage of the service that Spry’s Offer.
With that said, though, she continues to be amazed with how often she finds herself packaging food items for overnight delivery.
“I’ve been surprised with the popularity of these shipments since we purchased the business in 2007,” Spry admitted. “And I am surprised with how much people long for Wheeling and what it has to offer. Some of the people just want it, and they don’t care how much it costs to get it.
“Some people order a single tray of DiCarlo’s or a couple of bottles if Figaretti’s sauce, but some of the orders have been much, much larger,” she said. “And I think a lot of people would be surprised with the celebrities that we ship to and what those celebrities request and pay for.
“I can tell you that we ship guacamole and salsa offered at the Cilantro Grill to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and I understand that it usually ends up in the bullpen. Let’s face it; we have a lot of great restaurants here in Wheeling, and when people get a taste, they want it again and again. That’s where Spry’s Mail Center Plus comes into play.”
Shipping the “Taste of Wheeling” is, however, far from the only service offered at Spry’s Mail Center Plus.
“We do all of this work to ship the food items that we do for one reason, and that’s the smiles that the packages bring to the faces of the people shipping it and the smiles when the package arrives to its destination,” Spry said. “But we do a lot of other things here at the shop, like the banners and the signs, the mailboxes, lamination, faxing, the secretarial services, and other shipping services.
“While we utilize UPS for the overnight shipping of the foods, we also work with Federal Express, DHL, and the U.S. Postal Service,” she continued. “If you need an office but you do not have an office, that’s when we come into play.”