Designer shoes are one thing; but a designer ZIP code is another.
The shoe department at Saks Fifth Avenue's flagship store in New York is moving and getting a new ZIP code -- not moving to a new town, mind you, just moving four floors up. And the new ZIP code isn't for the whole building; it's just for the eighth floor.
The new 8,500-square-foot department and its mailing code will share the same name: 10022-SHOE.
It is the first time the U.S. Postal Service has included letters in a ZIP code. It is also the first time a single floor of a building has its own code.
"It is a marketing strategy," said Lesley Langsam Kennedy, the public relations director at Saks. "We wanted the department to be a destination and that required a ZIP code. It's the first time anyone has ever been given permission to do something like this. … I'm sure the postmaster general is going to go crazy with people making similar requests."
Saks paid nothing for the new ZIP code, she said.
The Postal Service isn't quite going crazy, but it did seem a little miffed that Saks let the cat out of the bag so early.
The U.S. Postal Service was planning on launching a larger pilot program for businesses to acquire vanity codes later this summer.
"We're still working out the details about exactly what is going on," said Tom Gaynor, a spokesman for the Postal Service's New York metro area. "The Postal Service didn't release these details about the program. Saks did. We'll be launching a larger pilot program this summer."
Gaynor said that the new codes will help companies advertise through the mail.
"As a component of a direct marketing campaign, S-H-O-E will really stand out," he said.
The Postal Service has also developed a special barcode, or meter strip, that is designed to look like a shoe.
"It looks like it's starting to gather some momentum. Our marketing and sales people are already talking to other companies," he said.
Very large companies, like General Electric, headquartered in Schenectady, N.Y., have traditionally been given their own codes. GE's is 12345.
For a brief while in the 1960s, Smokey Bear, the poster bear of the forest-fire prevention movement, had his own ZIP code on account of the copious amounts of fan mail he received.
"It's all very new, and we'll have to see if companies want to get these codes," Gaynor said.
It is not only companies looking forward to the new codes. David Rosdeitcher, better known to his fans as Zipcode Man, has made a living out of memorizing more than 40,000 ZIP codes and reciting them to tourists who watch his Boulder, Colo., act.
Rosdeitcher said he is not worried about learning the codes and thinks it might be as good for his business as it is for the companies.
"I think it might help me, because I can learn all the ZIP codes of different companies, and I can do my act at conferences and corporate events," he said. "The words make sense and have to do with the businesses, so I think it will be easy."