Ridgewood Post Office is to close for refurbishment next year with the internal layout changing to integrate the Post Office with the shop and make it easier for customers to move around.
Owners Jon and Sue Gothard are looking forward to having extra space and to being able to merge Post Office and store opening hours.
Currently the Post Office hours are shorter than those for the shop and it is frustrating for customers who want to do Post Office business on a Sunday only to find they can’t.
The Gothards moved into the Post Office and stores 28 years ago. Originally they only planned to stay for five years and then move on but instead their children have grown up there and the couple are active members of the community.
Jon is chairman of the village hall, Sue is secretary, and their staff help with bookings for the hall which is busy with activities ranging from dance to upholstery and table tennis to short mat bowling.
Business at the Post Office has evolved over the years and most recently it has become a National Lottery Outlet offering the full range of lottery games and scratch cards.
Takeaway coffee, made from freshly ground beans, is available along with tea, chocolate, soup and hot pies and pastries.
Meal deals are offered too and all the products you would associate with a convenience store, fresh milk, locally sourced bread, eggs and frozen meat, can be found there along with newspapers, magazines – which can be delivered – cards and stationery, and a range of wines, beers and spirits.
Jon and Sue run outreach Post Offices on Tuesdays in Nutley at the Nutley Arms and in High Hurstwood at the village hall. They also run one in Isfield on Thursdays at Holly Gap Farm Shop.
The couple say that running a business like theirs becomes a lifestyle, especially because they live on the premises, and they very much enjoy it.
“We’re looking forward to modernising in the New Year, removing a wall and the fortress that is the Post Office so that it becomes part of the shop,” said Sue.
Jon added that they would be moving shelving from the centre of the shop to make it easier for customers to move around, particularly those with pushchairs.
Store opening hours are from 6.30am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and from 7am to noon on Sundays. The Post Office currently opens from 9am to 5.30m Monday to Friday and from 9am to 12.30pm on Saturday but after the refurbishment it will be open the same hours as the store.