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Tales from an Innkeeper's crypt: Finally...the tree's down

Updated on September 10, 2011

Why did it take so long to take the tree down? (we just did it yesterday). There are lots of reasons, I suppose, but one of the biggest ones is I never wanted to put it up in the first place. I think I'm turning into this Bah Humbug person who experiences Christmas as a chore now. It didn't used to be that way. I used to wallow in the glow of tiny twinkling lights, yards of red silk ribbon, and home-made eggnog. Where did it all go? And who is this person I've become?

How about we blame it on the economy? Or on a delayed reaction to the deflation of a dream; the one where I finally sell my bed and breakfast after 16 years of working in a second career (the first one lasting 30 years), I move to Texas where my darling daughter is waiting with open and loving arms, and I write all day every day. No more dirty toilets, sinks full of dishes and burnt French Toast!

Business , in general, has not been good this year...in fact, the past three years were not financially as lucrative as I had hoped. The economy, of course, is one of the major factors but another huge one is the fact that I had planned on selling my Inn and moving to Austin this past June.

During that time, I started packing up my belongings. Kari was helping me. Since she was buying the Inn, she was as anxious to get me out of Louisville as I was. We completed around 40 boxes, four of which contained all my winter clothes; clothes I could really use now in this below zero weather. But they are sealed and stacked away in my storeroom on the third floor, some of them without labels (thanks to Kari) and I can't get to them. We also cleaned and threw out most of my business files from my three file cabinets, old documents, books, and stuff I wouldn't use in Austin. I turned over a lot of business stuff to Kari.

The point is I really got off track with the business. My head and heart were already in Austin. This definitely added to the slide the business was experiencing. Specifically, I wasn't keeping up with the marketing and sales. I wasn't folllowing up whenever guests stayed here...as a matter of fact, I really wasn't that interested in my guests or engaged in running a bed and breakfast; I had started picturing Kari as the new Innkeeper. I stopped paying for on line listings on sites that would generate business, and I began focussing on yard sales, advertising the sale of some of my furniture, hiring a moving company, and decorating my new home in Austin.

The result was I slid from third to ninth place on a site that was one of my major sources of bookings, I was taken off sites I was no longer paying for, and I stopped going to my two bed and bedfast organization meetings. In 2007, my occupancy rate was 53%, in 2010, in 2010 i1 was 41%. It's always been fairly high for a small B&B, so when I saw the figures from 2010, I was somewhat shaken.

So here I sit, in recovery, trying to get back to that quirky, sometimes cranky,but upbeat and involved Aleksander House Innkeeper (which is me), who cared so much about her Gourmet food, her beautiful hardwood floors and four-poster bed linens, and most of all her guests. Is it any wonder I left the tree up too long?




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    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Dolores, this is the best idea I've heard in a long time. I love it! definitely has possibilities. Thanks.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Alek - now is your chance to create a B&B with a special personality - The Cranky Innkeeper. You could shuffle around in slippers and a housecoat, and serve up Spam for breakfast. Answer the phone with a gravely voice, "Yeah? Waddya want?" We're all a bit grouchy and depressed these days. I think the idea has possibilities!

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      No, I don't think the change will be drastic...it's just getting it to happen that's a challenge

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

      I was fortunate to loose a really great paying job with the government - it didn't feel like good fortune at the time, but after lots of practice making lemonade (when life gives you lemons...), I am finally able to write almost full-time. I hope you don't have to deal with as drastic a change as I did, but I am sure you will achieve your goal!

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Thanks, Audrey. I'll just keep lookin' round that bend :=)

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Ivorwen, Yeah I've thought of just about everything at this point. The problem is all I want to do is write.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      I totally understand as we've been in the medical transcription biz for over 20 years now. We lost most of it about 2 years ago and now I work for another firm.

      Sometimes though it's just time to say goodbye as hard as that sounds. We lost our biz to technology - the advent of the blasted electronic health record - but I always think things happen for some reason. We tried and tried to rebuild but in our case, the business just isn't there.

      So we're riding out what is left of it and looking to the future. I keep thinking there is another biz I'm not tapping into but I just can't seem to get my brain around it yet! Maybe it's mushing for old ladies....ha ha

      Wishing you the best no matter what road you take as you've certainly put in your time!! Maybe like us, a new road is just around the bend.

    • Ivorwen profile image

      Ivorwen 7 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      I wasn't thinking a new business, but a new perspective on the old one, something to make it exciting again... however, after 16 years, you've probably thought of and tried most everything. Best of luck to you, as you plug along.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      "I wonder if your Inn can be rented as living quarters for a family with kids? That could be an option for you."

      I've actually thought of that...but, honestly VS, I'd be very much afraid that they would trash it and when I got it back it wouldn't be worth what it is now. Besides, I want to move to Austin and I wouldn't like leaving my beautiful, historic home is someone elses hands...it might be expensive too...to hire a management company. And I probably couldn't get enough in rent to cover my mortgage, insurance, and property taxes.

      But thanks so much for trying to help me...I can use all the suggestions I can get.

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 7 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      I can emphatize with you so much, ya know, my heart goes out to you as I understand what you are going through emotionally, but I like Hmrjmr's advice, one I will also use! I wonder if your Inn can be rented as living quarters for a family with kids? That could be an option for you. Thanks for being open, I enjoy reading you.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      The problem with the tree is I have to put it up for my guests. When they book a reservation during the holidays, they expect Christmas decorations...that's one reason why they come to a B&B, especially in Louisville which is filled with Victorian houses.

      I can't imagine what it's like to work a full time and then come home and try to write. At least I'm here all days and can write continually when not actually making bkfst or cleaning rooms, etc...and, of course, when I have no guests...which, right now is frequently.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Nancy,

      I did not even put up a tree this year, so do not feel too bad about it. It sounds like you have a really full plate, so if you are not into decorating for the holidays-it is fine. I too am trying to focus more on my writing, but sometimes after a day of working it is hard to get in the swing of it.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Well, you can't do that if the old groove is your business of 16 years. Ain't gonna start a new business in this economy and at my age..But I hear you.:=)

    • Ivorwen profile image

      Ivorwen 7 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      I find it hard to get back into the groove, of something I use to enjoy, but was looking forward to moving on from... Sometimes, at least for me, it is easier to create a new groove, based on new things you love about the same old.

      May God bless you in 2011.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Wow, Hmrjmr...how'd you think of all that this early in the morning? :=)

      Seriously, it's very good advice and it's exactly what I am going to do...Can you see me smiling? Thanks so much.

    • Hmrjmr1 profile image

      Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Chin up Alek! Now that the last vestiges of last year are out of the house. A new year brings you another opportunity to excel, for both you, your family, and your guests. Tackle a moment or two and remember what you love about your B&B and the new folks you meet because of it, give it a hug, and face the new days one at a time but with a smile in the mirror as your first thought of the day. God Bless and good luck with it all.

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