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Whitley stores and post office re-opens as new ‘community hub’

THE village shop and post office in Whitley has re-opened with a new owner, new look and a new name, The Toast Office.

The new-look village stores and post office, which now also incorporates a tea room, opened last week. Residents can once again shop locally and use the post office services in the village for the first time since the shop closed in May. The Post Office branch is designed to handle straightforward transactions which can be carried out quickly and efficiently.

Owner Luke Johnson, who moved to Whitley last year with his partner Charlotte, noticed the potential of the shop whilst he was renovating his bungalow in the village. “I tried using the local shop, only to find it was always either closed or didn’t have what I wanted,” he said. “I joked about the shop having huge potential and that it would be my next project. At the time I had zero intention or clue that a year later I would actually be the owner!

“But essentially what inspired me was that I could see its potential and I had fallen in love with Whitley. I made it my goal to create a community hub and give the shop the huge injection of love and energy it so desperately needed.

“Combining the shop, post office and tea room creates a ‘hub’ for the community. Also, in the shop I plan to focus on supplying mainly high quality local produce to help support other local businesses.

“I wanted to create a warm, comfortable and inviting place where people will always feel welcome and can visit, even if they only want some company.

“I understand Whitley has a high elderly population, some of whom are living on their own. I know how important it is to keep the local shop and so although it has been very difficult, I have persevered with the services like the Post Office and newspapers as I know so many rely on them.

“The support I have received from the local community has been overwhelming. At moments where I felt my luck couldn’t get any worse, a simple hello from a local reminded me why I was working so hard.

“Once open, I had further ‘teething problems’ and despite the inconvenience, I have had not one grumble but instead greeted with understanding, compliments about the shop and wishes of good luck.

“Everyone who has visited the shop has expressed sheer delight about the changes, with some explaining it’s better than they ever could have imagined.”

The Toast Office on Top Lane, is open Monday to Sunday from 9am until 5pm.