"Gulfport won! The City of Gulfport won!" Angela Lagan exclaimed.
Angela and Biff Lagan – who own the retail shop where the U.S. Post Office is located – received the answer to the much-anticipated question around town, "Will the Post Office stay in Gulfport?"
The answer is, yes. And the Post Office will keep operating thanks to a communitywide effort by residents who launched a petition drive. Their efforts will keep the Post Office, which is more than a half-century old, in its location.
The decision is quite a victory for this coastal Florida town, given that U.S. Post Offices are going dark across the nation, as the federal government scales back due to costs and declining use.
Angela Lagan, co-owner of the Gulfport Beach Bazaar, says the U.S. Post Office called yesterday and talked to Bill Meredith, who runs the Post Office now, about transferring the contract to the Lagans.
Monday, Dec. 24, will be Meredith's last day on the job. The office will be closed on Christmas and on Wednesday, Dec. 26, Angela will be working at the Post Office counter.
"We haven't received signed paperwork, but have been told that we'll get the contract. It's unofficially official," she said.
They sent in 571 signatures with their bid for the contract to the U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday, Dec. 4. Lagan credits residents' last minute scramble to gather petitions with helping guarantee the Post Office stays on Beach Boulevard - where it's been since 1952.
"I have never seen the city come together so quickly and so whole heartedly," She said. "At 9 a.m. on Dec. 26 it will officially be our Post Office", she said.
The "snowball" of support happened when residents and city officials heard that there was a chance the community post office could be moved. The Lagans bought the Gulfport Beach Bazaar in August from the Merediths. However, the contract to operate the small Post Office within the store did not transfer. The Lagans sent in their bid for the contract, along with someone else from South Pasadena.
If South Pasadena were to receive the contract, it could have been moved.
It took five days for volunteers to solicit more than 550 signatures to keep the Post Office in Gulfport.
"I just want to thank the City of Gulfport," Lagan said.
"Stay tuned for a victory party," she added.
The U.S. Post Office and Gulfport Beach Bazaar are located at 3115 Beach Boulevard S.