There has often been much debate about the proliferation of High Street chains, and the homogenising of town centres up and down the country. I’m sure there are valid arguments both for and against. This page is not really a place for that debate. In the suburbs, though, I’ve always felt it’s a beneficial idea to support our local traders.
One of the points people are inclined to frequently make is the cost of providing that service. As much benefit and convenience as the corner shop brings, it does not always offer value. For people on tight budgets the inclination to only shop at the nearest outlet is something that is an effort made in emergency, and this I fully understand. In a world of major chains, and mass (and thus cheaper) production and distribution, the idea of being a nation of shopkeepers is slowly evaporating.
Here in Queens Park, for those of us who live close to the Pepperpot, we are extremely blessed. At the top of Islingword Road we have two much frequented outlets. Firstly a chemist that has been in place for many years, and also our much loved Post Office.
Having local facilities like this makes our lives easier; there is even a doctor’s surgery on the same stretch. But much as I would expound the virtues, and praise the work of those two outlets designed for our health and welfare (especially that of the delightful Kathy who’s been at O’Flinns for over 30 years), a special mention is due for the Islingword Road Post Office.
The local Post Office seems to been in decline, with half the amount there were in the mid-1960s Certainly one that offers the range of services that ours does is not that common. For as long as I can remember, I have been using the premises for not just things related to all things post, but for many of the facilities that we would only find in the major offices in the centre of town. Passport applications (even photos for passports), sending and collecting money, tax discs, stationary, and many other things. But what makes this little place really special is its desire to reach out and make local folks lives, especially older folks, better.
There is an in-house store which, looking at its prices, seems to care little for profit. I sense I could almost do a weekly shop of essentials there and come out with just as much change as I would had it been a supermarket. Whenever I go in there I do feel that the shop itself regards itself as a facility to serve the community rather than take business from it. There is even an in-store machine for cash withdrawals that doesn’t charge a fee, a rarity in the suburbs.
The current Postmaster, a cheery and accommodating Yorkshireman, has been there for at least 30 years, for I remember him when I was at school. There is a small number of staff, and most of them seem to have worked there a long time. They seem very happy in their jobs, symbolised by their attitude towards the customers.
Places like Islingword Road Post Office make me proud, and fortunate, to live where I am, not just for the excellent service they provide, but for the outstanding attitude they have towards those who use them. A big thank you is due to Martin and his staff for making all the years spent here so much more convenient for me and many others.