Mailboxes are often the first thing people see when they come to your home. However, they are usually plain, boring and overlooked. For the ultimate in curb appeal, check out Lewis County’s own TheBusBox. Created by Brandon Willson of Chehalis, TheBusBox offers custom Volkswagen Bus and other designer mailboxes.
Branden started TheBusBox from an idea he thought of many years ago: a VW Bus replica. Being all about the details, he spent many hours on that first mailbox making sure it was to scale. But he still wasn’t satisfied with the results. Six months later, he tried again with a new mailbox. It still wasn’t quite right. Both mailboxes ended up parked on a shelf.
A few years later, his now-fiancée Carmen found the mailboxes and encouraged Branden to try again. With some new ideas and tools, he started the business in 2012 on Etsy. “I put on the first mailbox that I created for my home and in the first three days, I sold three mailboxes,” he says.
Six years later, he has made well over 2,000 mailboxes. Branden has shipped at least one mailbox to every state in the United States, as well as internationally to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Germany, Austria, The United Kingdom, Greenland, Scotland, Ireland, Russia and Japan.
TheBusBox has been featured in several publications including This Old House Magazine, HGTV Magazine, CNN iReport, Hot VW Magazine, vwwatercooled.com, Ace Hardware and Country Living Magazine.
“The magazines and features that I have been a part of were interesting,” Branden shares. “They all found me online and contacted me. I was surprised at first because I guess I didn’t realize how they got their stories or people for the articles. It was cool to be a part of those. Once I knew I was going to be in a magazine, I would start checking the newsstands when I knew that magazine was going to come out.”
TheBusBox was once featured in the Hot VW Magazine, unbeknownst to Branden. “I subscribe to that magazine and didn’t know I was going to be in it,” he says. “I got the issue but was so busy making mailboxes that I didn’t even open it for over a month. When I finally did, I was flipping through the pages and was surprised to see my mailbox in there along with a big article from a customer about it!”
Currently, Branden is making a mailbox for a CEO of a big tech company in New York for his beach house on the Jersey Shore. He has also made ten mailboxes for a United States Postal Service campaign, promoting the postal service. He once made a mailbox for a conference that Google was having in California. One mailbox he made was sent to The Bellagio in Las Vegas so a couple that was getting married there could use it as a card holder for their wedding.
Many customers want a replica of their own Volkswagen, so they send Branden photos of their VW Bus. Branden will design their mailbox to match the picture. He replicates split window, bay window, campers, twenty-one window and school buses. He can also customize for favorite sports teams and do custom colors to match any home.
Branden plans to continue growing TheBusBox brand, keep coming up with new ideas and adding them to his online store. Locally, TheBusBox mailboxes are available at Market Street Ace Hardware in Chehalis. Purchases can also be made directly from Branden.
The original prototype is Branden’s favorite mailbox. “It sits up in the loft of my garage now, but it’s my favorite because it’s what started it all,” says Branden. “It is like the dollar bill that hangs on the wall of a lot of businesses, showing the first dollar made. I see that mailbox and laugh sometimes, thinking that it all started right there, with that mailbox and a couple of cans of old paint.”
Branden, who went to college for mechanics and is a certified aircraft mechanic, also owns an auto shop called Outcast Motorsports. He recently started a new venture called Outcast Graphics, spun from his knowledge and supplies from TheBusBox.
TheBusBox started with an idea, some trial and error, and a little encouragement. “Don’t be afraid to try something new,” implores Branden. “Experiment with an idea and put it out there. But also surround yourself with people that share that same vision. You never know what will happen until you give it a shot.”