A FAMILY-run post office is defying the downturn by celebrating its reopening after a major refurbishment.
Chester Road Post Office received funding worth tens of thousands of pounds to overhaul the business, which was officially opened by Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott.
The transformation, which includes an extension, installation of a cash machine and services such as car tax, comes after the closure of other businesses including nearby Barnes Park Post Office.
Owner Stuart Oliver, who secured the funding for the revamp, said customers are happy to see that the business is still running.
“Everybody has said they are pleased to see us still here,” he said. “They’ve said it’s nice we have done the work on the shop, and it’s just better all round now.
“It’s got easy wheelchair access, and it looks new.”
The Post Office, which has belonged to Stuart’s family since they bought it in the 1950s has a loyal customer base who contributed to the business by appealing to keep car tax in the Post Office.
MP Julie Elliott, who cut the ribbon at the recent opening, backed their campaign, and took the petition to Parliament.
She said: “I strongly believe that things like this should be available on the high street in order to keep Post Offices open and keep as many services as possible.
“I’m familiar with this area, and it’s great to see the business is still open.
“Post Offices are great.”
The Post Office closed for about a week while work was completed and is now open again.
Stuart, 46, who was an air steward for 20 years, said the refurbishment is already improving business.
“The feedback has been really positive and everyone says they like the new look,” he said.
“It’s like when you change things at home and you can’t find anything for a while, but we’re getting there, and the staff all like it.
“It’s just a nicer environment.”
The Post Office now has longer opening hours and is open on Saturdays. Car tax will be available to buy in four to six weeks.