After 25 years at the helm of Rutherford Post Office Grant and Marguerite Booth can certainly pride themselves on being multi-skilled – in fact they can boast being everything from snake catchers and counsellors to IT experts and photographers.
After spending a quarter of a century in the modest business, Mr and Mrs Booth have decided to call it a day.
Grant reminisced this week about the couple’s move from the sleepy seaside village of Yamba, where they ran motels, to Maitland’s western suburbs – a happy half way point between Marguerite’s family in Bathurst and Grant’s loved ones in Sydney.
“Our children were growing and we were looking at things from a family point of view. The post office business was nine to five and community-based and that’s what we wanted,” Mr Booth said.
“We wanted the type of business where we could be part of the community and we believe we have been. We’ve had a good rapport with most of the people here and I believe we have provided a good community service.”
The couple have watched their business grow – flourishing from a small postal service to a one stop shop for paying bills, banking, obtaining certain licences and processing passports.
“We’ve seen a lot of changes with new electronic innovations and parcels have taken off which is a big part of the business now as people do more online shopping. We do a lot more government services like land titles and passports and have taken over a lot of banking now banks are closing branches,” Grant said.
One of the most memorable occasions at the office was when Marguerite scaled the front counter to avoid a clash with a brown snake which had been living in the rear toilet and decided to make an appearance in the shop. “We’ve had people collapse, we’ve helped people who can’t read or write, advised the elderly on various matters. We just feel like this business has been an extension of our family,” Grant said.
“However, the time has come for someone younger to take over and we’re happy to hand it over to Nick Patel and his wife Sawti. Rebecca Burton who has been with us since we started – in fact she was with the previous owner – will stay on.”
Conceding a few tears have been shed this week, Grant said the past 25 years have been a lot of hard work but extremely rewarding. “It’s our time now – time to do some travelling while we’re still healthy. We’ve enjoyed the people, the community and being part of everyone’s lives. We have been very happy here – it’s a great community that has left us with great memories.”