Sisters are putting their own stamp on their family business after saving a post office service for their community.
Kimberley Huitson, 31, and Natalie Cowell, 33, bought their parents’ Tunstall Vale shop as Richard, 62, and Denise, 64, decided to semi-retire.
Now Wilson’s Convenience Stop in Queen Alexandra Road has become bigger and better after adding the Post Office counter to the store floor.
The service had been at risk after the couple who ran it for 13 years decided to retire and new owners, who would have been charged with overhauling the business as part of the Post Office’s modernisation programme could not be found.
The Wilson’s shop is now beginning to serve customers and offering extended hours after installing the counter and a round of training for the family and their three staff members.
Natalie, who is married to Sandy and is mum to Lana, seven, said: “We jumped at the chance when the Post Office approached us.
It’s nice to be part of the community and I think the Post Office adds a lot of value to it, it’s a good feeling and it’s important that we’ve kept that.Natalie Cowell
“We were looking to develop our retail in another direction, so we built our case and sent off our business plan and we had to go through an interview and presentation and there was public consultation which was fed in.”
The go ahead from the Post Office means the team, which still includes Richard and Denise as well as Sandy, who is also a partner in advertising agency Cowell and George, has been able to offer staff more hours and give customers a greater chance of using the counter.
Post office access has gone from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday and Saturday mornings to 6am to 9pm from Monday to Saturday.
Natalie added: “We were extremely apprehensive and we’ve put in a lot of work, there’s been an awful lot happening.
“There’s been so much to learn and both of us have children and are very family-orientated, but the business is running seven days a week.
“We felt very strongly about taking the post office on. It’s nice to be part of the community and I think the post office adds a lot of value to it, it’s a good feeling and it’s important that we’ve kept that.
“I think people really realise that and it gave us another opportunity to serve people,”
The counter was officially launched last week by Natalie and Kimberley, who is married to Rhys and is mum to Leo, three, and Mia, one.
Richard, who originally bought the shop in 2000, added: “They’ve had the business for five years now and we’re semi-retired, but we know it’s in good hands.
“It’s a lot of responsibility, but they’ve had a lot of success in the way they’ve been trying things out.”