New stamp that can be used despite higher postage rate goes on sale

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gary Biggs of Buford was easily sold on the Postal Service's new forever stamp for two reasons.

First of all, he's a little old-fashioned when it comes to paying bills or mailing in a tax return. He prefers a check, an envelope and a stamp rather than an online payment.

Secondly, he doesn't really like to make return trips to the store.

"I'm the kind of guy who gets 50 rolls of toilet paper when I shop," Biggs said. "So I might as well buy a couple books of stamps."

The forever stamp, which went on sale Thursday, will carry the word "forever" rather than a price. That means it will still be valid for letters mailed in the future no matter how much postage rates go up.

And that means if rates do increase, Biggs won't have to make another trip to the post office to get one-cent or two-cent stamps to add to his mail.

"I like the idea of going ahead and getting stamps and then just throwing them in a box so I have them any time of day," Biggs said.

The forever stamp debuted Thursday at a cost of 41 cents - two cents above the current postage rate.

But postage rates will soon change, increasing first-class postage to 41 cents May 14. This will be the first postage rate increase since stamps went up two cents in January 2006.

Workers at the North Lawrenceville office on Buford Drive said demand for the stamp on its first day wasn't very high, mostly because many customers hadn't heard about it.

"You have to tell people this is out there," said Debbie Thomas, a sales service associate for the post office. "They're not aware of it yet."

Leonard Thomas of Lawrenceville decided to buy the forever stamp rather than normal first-class stamps once he was made aware of its benefits. He said it was an easy decision, since it seemed as though postage rates go up on such a regular basis.

"No matter what, they're going to go up, just like

everything else," Leonard Thomas said. "Everything but paychecks and pension checks."

The Postal Service said in a press release announcing the addition of the forever stamp that people who wanted to hedge against inflation could load up on the forever stamp for long-term use.

Tim Lockheart, store manager at the North Lawrenceville post office, said he hadn't seen anyone stockpiling the stamp on the first day, even though it was something he'd thought about for himself.

"I looked at the cost personally and decided it'd just be better to do a little bit at a time," Lockheart said.