People in Your Neighborhood: Meet La Jolla Mailbox Rentals owner Anita Woods

Editor’s Note: Welcome to La Jolla Light’s “People in Your Neighborhood” series, which shines a spotlight on notable locals we all wish we knew more about! Light staff is out on the town talking to familiar, friendly faces to bring you their stories. If you know someone you’d like us to profile, send the lead via e-mail to editor@lajollalight.com or call us at (858) 875-5950.

Anita Woods has been running La Jolla Mailbox Rentals, at 5666 La Jolla Blvd., for the past 30 years. When customers come in, she greets them with a smile and readily jumps to get their mail or ship their packages. Tiny, smart- and tidy-looking, this 74-year-old isn’t planning to retire any time soon.

Where are you from?

“I’m from San Diego. I’ve been here all my life. Now, I live in Mission Bay.”

When did you open La Jolla Mailbox Rentals?

“I opened Feb. 21, 1987.”

How did you come up with the idea?

“It was after my divorce. I knew I wanted to run a business, I just didn’t know what kind of business, and the opportunity came up with La Jolla Mailbox Rentals, and I jumped on it. The only regret I have is I didn’t do it sooner (laughs). One of the customers (of the former owner) who had a mailbox here was an acquaintance of mine. He called me to say the owner wanted to sell. He told me it was a postal business, and I had no idea how to run a postal business (laughs). He said, ‘I think you would be really great. The gentleman will stay with you for a month and train you.’ And I thought, ‘I have nothing to lose, I’m going to go ahead and try it.’ And I did. It was not that difficult because there weren’t that many services offered, so he didn’t have to train me that much.”

What services do you offer?

“I ended up expanding the former business, and I did it for the needs of the people. I offer shipping of all sorts, scanning, printing, copying, notary public services and mailbox rentals.”

What does it mean to rent a mailbox?

“People have a mailbox here with a street address. Most of my customers have small businesses they run out of their homes, so they use this as their mailbox and package delivery.”

What’s the most in demand?

“It’s mostly mailbox rentals and shipping; I do a lot of shredding now, and scanning.”

How many regular costumers do you have?

“I have about 180 mailbox rentals.”

What’s the craziest thing you’ve had to ship?

“Once, I had to ship a dead chicken (laughs). Someone came in with the dead chicken and asked me to ship it to a lab. It was all boxed up, so I didn’t have to handle it.”

What are your hours?

“I open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. But I get here earlier, so I put in about 10 hours a day.”

What are some of the traits needed for this business?

“I’ve always been really good with people, so that came very natural to me. I’m very organized, that’s the only way to do it here, because you’re serving many different types of people.”

What did you do before La Jolla Mailbox?

“Before my divorce I was at home, but after my divorce I had a job, doing administrative work for a contractor. I was only there for a couple of months when this opportunity came up, and I didn’t want to leave this contractor. I had a meeting with him and told him the situation. He said, ‘Anita, go for it. If you have an opportunity to own your own business go for it. If it doesn’t work out, then come back.’ ”

What’s the secret to looking young?

“Work, hard work. It keeps me busy.”

Do you have kids?

“I have two kids, Gerry (54) and Trisha (50), grandkids Brando (27), Sydney (22) and a great granddaughter Olivia (1 1/2).

How did you like being a stay-at-home mom?

“It was great when the kids were little. It was wonderful. I was lucky enough to be able to stay home. Now I couldn’t (laughs).”

Do they live in San Diego?

“Yes, everybody lives in San Diego, so it’s nice for me. We do a lot of family life. Most of the time I’m at work, but the weekends we spend together.”

What do you do for fun?

“I work out. I only have time to do it three times a week, but I do get it in. I belong to a gym next to my house. I do weights, I bike and run in the treadmill. I love spending time with my family.”

Where did you go to high school?

“Cathedral High. I didn’t go to college because I got married early.”

Do you like music?

“I do, I like going to concerts, and I try to go, but I haven’t now for a while. I like old time rock ‘n’ roll, bands like Journey.”

What do you like to eat?

“I cook mostly at home, although I do like going out to dinner. I don’t cook as much as I used to, I make faster meals, try to eat very healthy. I’m a good cook, I have Italian heritage so I like cooking lasagne.”

Did you grow up in an Italian household?

“Yes, both of my parents were Italian. It was great. My grandma was around a lot, so she spoke to me in Italian, but I really don’t know how to speak Italian that much because she wanted me to answer in English so she would learn. My dad was born in St. Louis, Missouri, my mom was 8-months-old when she came over from Sicily. They first got to New York, but she came from a family of fishermen, so they settled here, in San Diego.

We would have pasta on Sundays, that was our Sunday meal, but generally my mom cooked normal stuff.”

How was your upbringing?

“They were really good parents, but they weren’t very open. Years ago, most parents weren’t ... we are more so now, as I was with my kids.”

What’s something people don’t know about you?

“People know everything about me (laughs). A lot of them probably don’t know my age, but they will now!”

Are you planning on retiring?

“I don’t think I’m going to retire very soon. I think about it, but I also think that I’m going to go on for many more years.”

What’s your hope for the future?

“I hope I can retire someday (laughs).”

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