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Business / Closure of Toab shop and post office a ‘bolt out of the blue’

A customer notice says the shop and post office will be closing on 13 August. Photos: Ronnie Robertson

FOLK IN the Ness are in shock after learning of the closure of the Toab shop and post office through a ‘customer notice” in the shop window and on Facebook with no further explanation given.

Staff at the shop were unable to shed any light on the reasons behind the surprise move, other than saying the owner had taken ill and was unable to comment.

The popular and well-established shop is due to close at the end of next week on 13 August.

Toab Shop was sold to new owners Dr Paul Scott and David Leishman of Hrafn Shetland Limited in May last year. They could not be contacted on Thursday.

Shetland South councillor Allison ‘Flea’ Duncan described the news as “devastating” adding that the shop and post office will be “badly missed” by local people.

Toab shop provides for a relatively large catchment area in the well populated communities in the vicinity of Sumburgh Airport.

It not only hosts the Virkie post office but was also used as a sorting office for mail leaving Shetland on the plane.

One local resident said he was not surprised the shop would be closing as customer service had gone downhill and shelves were poorly stocked since the change in ownership.

Councillor Duncan said he had asked the council’s development department to look into what could be done to maintain the public service the post office provides.

He said there had been no warning signs as he only became aware of the news on Thursday morning when a concerned constituent called him.

“To me this came as a bolt out of the blue,” Duncan said. “I wasn’t aware of any problems there at all, and I have to use the same words the constituent and staff at the shop use: I am devastated and disappointed that this is going to happen.

“I don’t know what the directors’ views are, but I hope this shop and post office can continue to stay open for the benefit of the community.

“The post office meanwhile is a viable institution for the people who live in the nearby communities.”

Post Office Ltd and Royal Mail have both been contacted with requests for comment and updates on their immediate plans.

A spokesperson for Post Office Ltd said on Thursday afternoon: “The postmaster for Virkie has resigned with short notice. The branch will be temporarily closed from 13 August when the shop where the post office is based, closes.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. Alternative branches in the area include Dunrossness and Bigton.”