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Post Office draws people in our shop

PUBLISHED: 18:11 27 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:44 03 July 2010

UNDER THREAT: The tiny post office at Stokesby which is run by Rick Sergeant

UNDER THREAT: The tiny post office at Stokesby which is run by Rick Sergeant

Liz Coates

The post office in Stokesby is about the same size as a traditional red telephone box and just as endangered. The tiny set-up inside the Bungalow Stores can claim to be the smallest in Norfolk in terms of floor space with Rick Sargeant simultaneously switching roles between the shop and post office counters.

The post office in Stokesby is about the same size as a traditional red telephone box and just as endangered. The tiny set-up inside the Bungalow Stores can claim to be the smallest in Norfolk in terms of floor space with Rick Sargeant simultaneously switching roles between the shop and post office counters.

He said trade had been draining away from the community post office and shop on a number of fronts for years. Its pretty location in the heart of the Broads draws trippers every year, but in ever dwindling numbers with boat trade down dramatically to an estimated third of what it was. Competition from big supermarkets and Budgens in Acle had also taken its toll with the sale of coal and bottled gas almost wiped out with most households switching to oil.

Meanwhile, the post office had been chipping away at revenue for years with changes in the way things like pensions and TV licences are paid. Postage was still buoyant but not a big earner he added.

Mr Sargeant, a former manager at The Hermanus in Winterton who has travelled the world as an offshore worker, said it was already difficult to make ends meet at the shop and that the loss of the post office salary could have a devastating affect.

He said: “We wont know how much it will affect our trade until it happens. The fact that the post office is here draws people into the shop. We will have to sell a lot of tins of beans to make up for the salary.”

Mr Sargeant has been running the shop with his wife Yvonne for 20 years, inheriting the post office following an earlier closure 14 years ago.

Early reaction from his customers after the closure posters went up on Wednesday morning was shock he said. Many of them came in at peak times like early morning and assumed the shop and post office were always that busy, which was a far cry from the truth.

There was little profit to be had from the sale of milk, bread and newspapers and with modern shopping habits focussed on supermarkets the future for village shops was uncertain, especially now that post offices were being taken away, he added. Nearest branches are in Acle, Filby and Fleggburgh.

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