By Sheree Hoddinett
A lot can happen in the space of 15 years, especially working in a small business which Jack and Suzie Stride are a testament too. The dynamic duo first purchased the Bongaree Licensed Post Office in July 2007 after leaving behind the corporate life in Victoria. It was a sea change, that has proven to be fruitful, as they continue to forge ahead on their successful business venture now 15 years later. They have weathered the storm of change many times, through stamp price increases to the digital landscape, influencing the future of mail delivery. They continue to do it all day in, day out greeting their loyal customers with a smile.
Life running a small business has been one of many twists and turns but it’s something Suzie enjoys being a part of. Her journey with Australia Post initially began on a pushbike, for Jack on a postie bike, both working their way up the ranks in different roles. It was by a lucky chance they found themselves settling on Bribie Island with their daughter and taking on the Bongaree Post Office. Now they can’t imagine life anywhere else.
“We came across an ad for a Post Office in The Age newspaper,” Suzie said. “We had already been chatting about running our own business. We’d had enough of the corporate life, and we said let’s get our own business. We worked out we were fully qualified for a licenced Post Office, and it all went from there.”
It took the first two years for them to find their rhythm and their rightful places within their new business, but after that, things have flowed naturally.
“We certainly have our moments,” Suzie said of living and working together. “We spend 10 hours everyday socialising with each other at work, so when we go home, we have our separate interests as well. It’s lasted well this long, and we’re still happily married and working together.”
Spending such a long time in business has meant they have built a loyal customer base, even getting to know a lot of their regular customers by name.
“There’s lots of little pockets of communities here,” Suzie said. “We are the heart, not just us, but all small businesses, the heart of the community that’s built around us. A lot of our customers are generally a lot older, and they need our help with a lot of things including bills and banking. The digital world, particularly with the next generation, is set to change that over time. But there will always be things that need to be posted. Letters used to be massive and now with digitalisation, email has taken away letters. But now because people are making online purchases, parcels are taking over. So, there’s always movement of some kind for us.”
While others around them had to shut their doors, it was business as usual during the pandemic for the Bongaree Post Office.
“It was a strange time,” Suzie said. “On the one hand I felt grateful we could still operate as we were classed as essential for people banking, sending off medical supplies or care packages. But watching what others were going through, it was really difficult.”
Although running their own business comes with the downside of not being able to jet off on their own adventures, Suzie admits it comes with its own benefits and rewards.
“I think the joy is in putting that smile on a person’s face and often we get letters to say thank you, which is great,” Suzie said. “But the highlight is when a person has ordered something online and it’s so precious to them and they come to collect it and their face just lights up. Now that’s really nice for us to see. We also help people go away on holidays with passports, foreign currency and insurance and they bring us back a little trinket from their trip. We have a whole shelf of trinkets and it’s great being a part of the community that reciprocates in this way.”
As they approach their 15th anniversary, Suzie said they were still considering their plans, but they would find a way to mark the special occasion. Drop in and pass on your best wishes to Jack and Suzie at the Bongaree Post Office at Shop 3/9 Toorbul Street, opposite Brennan Park near the jetty.