I did not start out to be an Inn-Keeper; nor did Dan. I'm an illustrator and writer by profession, a former gallery owner, and soldier, who reinvented herself as a FEMA disaster response manager & marketing mavin, prior to becoming an Inn-Keeper! Dan is US Army Retired, a military/corporate aviation professional and disaster response logistics manager, who then reinvented himself as an historic building restoration pro, Inn-Keeper, and Chef! Inn-Keeping snuck up on us and whacked us over the head in 2002, when we decided to buy and save the historic building now known to the public as the Elkhorn Inn &Theatre, and to us as "Dan & Elisse's Stupidly Large House". As we stood in the room that is now our formal dining room, surrounded by 6' of mold and a water-line 4-feet high, two people who'd lived a great portion of their live in hotels (and tents and boats) looked at each other & said (as we held our hands over our mouths and noses): "Well, I guess we're in the hotel business!" In the last 12 years we've learned a few things. I will add to this as I can- feel free to add your own!
1. Think twice- and then a third time- before you decide you want to be on the National Register of Historic Places. Yes, you will get a nice plaque. You will also not be allowed to make any repairs without Their approval, and They will tell you what you can and can’t do, and how you are going to do it, and it WILL cost you a fortune, and it WILL jack your insurance. Your state or county or local historic register is Just Fine for promotional purposes, and if you want to put in new windows or slap on a metal roof you can just do it- and you can have a plaque made, too.
2. Silk, Wool, & Cotton are the ONLY acceptable fabrics for carpets- and just about everything else. Man-made synthetics wear BADLY, stain like crazy, can't be properly cleaned, & are a Total waste of money. (And they're made from petrochemical products & aren't "green", either. Dan (68) and I (55) were "green" WAY before it was hip: hunters & fishermen/women are the "greenest" folks in the world- they Truly care about the environment! A corollary to this: When someone mentions "vegan leather", laugh. Unless it’s made from recycled pop-bottles or toilet paper rolls, it’s basically a PC moniker for vinyl or plastic, petrochemical products that are as un-eco & anti-"green" as it gets. Farm-raised leather and fur are the most eco, "green", & renewable resources on the planet).
3. The drapes we had custom-made from gorgeous, Italian brocade I got heavily discounted at Harry Zarin's in NYC 12 years ago were THE best décor investment we made! The other great deal we got were 27 dining table chairs from a closing Kmart for $7 each. Dan recovered them to match our decor, & when I then looked at the cost of dining room chairs my heart skipped a beat! The other great décor investment we made was deciding (for Dan to) to lay a marble floor: almost as cheap as kitchen tile, palatial, beautiful, and incredibly practical. Laying wall-to-wall carpet in an area world-famous for fishing and ATVing would have been criminally stupid.
4. Trust your partner. I trust Dan with Everything concerning electricity, wiring, plumbing, mechanics, WiFi, construction, appliances, etc., because my knowledge of all of the above would fit under the belly of a pregnant ant. He trusts me to be the Inn’s interior designer and decorator, writer, internet diva, shopper, and marketing pro, as well as Chef Dan’s Official Food Taster. I give my hubs a LOT of credit for suspending disbelief and trusting that my background in art & design, and my having studied and lived abroad for most of my life, gave me sufficient knowledge, talent, skill, and taste to design and decorate this humongous building- and to do “champagne decorating on a beer budget”, as it were! When I said I wanted to paint the walls of the fireplace room dark teal, he actually said okay and did it! I married good! And so did he! :-)
5. Know that with an historic “This Old House” building, the renovation will NEVER be finished. EVER. The second one thing is finished, something else will have to be done- or redone. Or redone for the 45th time. I already know that on our tombstones it shall state: “They almost finished restoring the building…”
6. If you can't DIY, or aren't married to someone who can, you CANNOT be an Inn-Keeper (or live, for that matter) in Extremely Rural USA. There is NO ONE to call when something breaks down, the power goes out, the fuses blow, the creek floods, the sump pump dies, a guest loses or takes the room key, there’s a short in a wall “somewhere” so the lights in 2 rooms don’t work, a ceiling fan goes bananas and starts spinning 50mph like a helo, a 1920 door handle falls off in your hand, effectively locking you out of a room- or the building, a snake traps your dogs in the basement, a fence blows down, the internet connection vanishes into ether, the phone goes dead, all 14 a/cs stop for no apparent reason, the heat pump dies, the hot water simply vanishes, the pipes freeze, the wind blows all your outdoor furniture into the middle of the highway, snaps your umbrellas in half, and transports your greenhouse to the next town, a bear eats your garbage box, another bear totals your guest's car, a family of birds that decided to nest in the chimney starts flying around the room, the computer crashes, disappearing 10 years of your business, voles eat $2500 worth of tulip bulbs, a toilet cracks in half, a sink falls off the wall, an a/c goes flying out of a 3rd story window into the garden, a 50' tree crashes across your parking lot, a guest floods a bathtub & damages the ceiling beneath it, which now has to be re-plastered, but everyone who knows how to do a crow's foot plaster ceiling died 25 years ago, a sink overflows and all the laminate flooring in the hall and two bedrooms has to be pulled up and replaced Right Now, a 400 lb. guest collapses a 1920 bed and it has to be rebuilt Immediately, another guest stops up a toilet, (& thus the entire building's plumbing), with heaven knows what, your vehicle up and dies for no damn good reason, your ATV refuses to start on a mountain top in the middle of nowhere, the sat dish stops working, turning your TV into a doorstop, a wall needs to be rebuilt "all of a sudden", 66 "historic" 1922 windows need to be rebuilt RIGHT NOW, an antique chandelier needs to be rewired Immediately, a new bug from Asia infests everything in sight, a hard frost hits in May and the fruit trees have to be wrapped in plastic in the middle of the night to save the fruit, the freezer decides to defrost itself and $2000 worth of food, you get bit by some unknown thingee with a stinger & go into shock, etc., etc., etc.! In my rental apt. in NYC I called maintenance. Here, thank G-d, I just roll over & kiss maintenance (a.k.a. Dan "McGuyver" Clark) good morning. LOL
7. If you are going to live in Rural America, you NEED a vehicle with 4WD. Trust me on this one. You want an old, rust-bucket Jeep, or an old, rust-bucket Ford F150 pick-up, so you won’t fret about it getting nicked up hauling loads of wood, tons of topsoil, or giant armoires. You also need to be able to repair whatever might possibly go wrong with it yourself, because when it breaks down out in the boonies there’s no one to call. And there’s no cell reception anyway.
8. If your building has “history”- especially if it’s “naughty” history, play it for all its worth! Our building is a "Coal Heritage Trail" building built as a coal mine company’s Miner's Clubhouse in 1922, which is very cool, & we have a little museum room at the Inn devoted to the area's illustrious history of coal mining and railroading, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn't hoping there was some sort of infamous or “naughty” history, too- New Orleans B&Bs that were brothels make a fortune! Unfortunately, all the nationally-infamous brothels around here were in Cinder Bottom, Keystone (5 minutes from us), and although their hey-day ended in the early 1970s, people still talk about them with misty-eyed longing… We do sort of have a ghostie (Molly), and although she’s been rather quiet of late, we've found that guests truly love a (gently) haunted Inn!
9. Buy eBay & "pre-loved" whenever possible. This means: furniture, cars, ATVs, hot tubs, clothing, jewelry, office supplies, appliances, decor, shoes, antiques, lighting fixtures, quilts, carpets, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Food is basically the only thing you should be buying fresh. LOL Do your homework, and eBay will be your BEST friend- it is mine!
10. Make friends with the good folks at Goodwill, the Sallies, Catholic Charities, St. Vinnie DePaul, & the local flea markets. They get cool stuff! Recycle! Reuse! Re-purpose! And NEVER throw anything out- you may need it and not be able to get more of it! (I used to make fun of “hoarders” and “pack-rats”- my dad was one. Now I understand it… all too well!)
11. Know that once you fall in love with a product- such as Cucina Bay Leaf Olive Oil, or Clorox OxyMagic Spray, or frozen Spanakopita, or bone-in Prime Rib- it will disappear from the store shelves and be impossible to find. You will ask the managers of Sam's "We're (not really) in Business For Small Business" Club and Walmart (who you are on a first-name basis with) to Please order the products you want, and they will tell you they can't. You will then spend weeks or months "sourcing" them online, and if and when you Do find them, you will be So overjoyed that you will do the Snoopy Happy Dance and pay ridiculous shipping charges just to have them.
12. Remember the companies, such as Orvis, who stand behind their products for life, and buy from them. And look for their stuff at flea markets & thrift shops & on eBay. :-) Try to buy made-in-the-USA products when at all possible, and to support small businesses, which are the backbone of what's left of our economy, and from companies that support the projects dear to your heart.
13. Buy locally-made products, art and crafts from local artists and artisans, and food from local farmers and farmers markets whenever possible. Actively seek out those who are making, growing, creating, and doing things, and buy from them, so they can keep making, growing, creating, and doing them. www.Etsy.com (as well as www.thegrommet.com and eBay) are wonderful source for lovely things made by Real People.
14. Thank G-d, daily, for the internet. Without on-line retailers (of everything from hot-tub supplies to appliances to gourmet spices to Hanukkah candles to giant, inflatable decorations to tulip bulbs to OxyMagic Spray (see above), eBay, our website, Facebook, & Twitter, we wouldn't have a business, much less be able to supply it or promote it.
15. No one knows your business and your market better than you. "Brilliant", so-called professional website designers, kept telling me to remove the photo of the train from the homepage of our website- when Railfans are the backbone of our business! (And if you really HATE trains, you also need to know that the train goes right past the inn… 30 times a day and night).
16. When life shoots you (what you think may be) lemons, make lemonade as hard & fast as you can! When the train went by our inn the night we moved into the building I thought we were goners; I literally grabbed Dan by the lapels, shook him, and sobbed, screaming at the top of my lungs: “We've lost our minds! We've got to find people who LOVE trains!” And we did! Railfans from across the USA & overseas, bless their hearts, turned out to be the backbone of our business!
17. With regards to media, promotion, and publicity: "Start at the top and work your way down". A quote from my father that I've successfully lived by for almost 40 years. As an illustrator in NYC, for example, he advised me to pitch the NY Times to start, and I did, and they bit. Two programs on HGTV (and a few dozen other things….) did not happen by magic.
18. There IS such a thing as "bad publicity". CMT wanting to film "Redneck Wedding" at your inn is NOT a Good Thing. LOL Another TV program wanted to film a “ghost” program at our inn, but when they found out that Molly wasn't evil, and that we didn't have any possessed antique furniture to give them (yes, give them), they went away. LOL HGTV, on the other hand, is Wonderful- we worship the ground they walk on and the air they breathe; the programs they did on us were love-songs- not just to us, but to our county, and all the things it offers tourists.
19. "Everything is negotiable." Another quote from my father, a Labor Union Guy & Arbitrator. Almost always true. Ask- it can't hurt! What’s the worst thing they can say? “No”. They can hang up the phone on you, or yell curses at you. So what? As the schoolyard song goes: "Sticks and stones..." Once you're prepared for The Worst Thing They Can Possibly Say, you can cold-call ANYONE!
20. If your county has no recycling program (ours does not), DIY: burn the paper in the fireplace, compost the veggies, reuse the glass, give the cans to the local guy who collects them, & feed the fish and dogs everything else. LOL
21. Be NICE to journalists. And, G-d willing, they will be nice to you! Editorial is worth its weight in gold, and FAR superior to any kind of advertising you can buy at any price.
22. I honestly have no idea how many air conditioners, drills, drill bits, screw-guns, saw blades, shop-vacs, nuts, wrenches, pliers, or vacuum cleaners we own or have owned. We go through tools & appliances like water rolls off a duck.
23. I'm honestly not sure of how many refrigerators & freezers we've gone thru, either. Or stoves. Or towels. Or sheets. Or robes. Or bathmats, heaters, washcloths, curtains, dusters, Swiffers, dishes, pots, cups, pillows, scented candles, mattress pads, beds, Italian tassel tie-backs, computers, down comforters, phones, cellphones, printers, lawn mowers, or weed-whackers. The movie "The Money Pit' was a joke. THIS is the money pit!!!
24. Anyone who says they have a vegetable garden to save money is LYING. The garden is a bigger money pit than the Inn! I swear we keep Burpee, Park Seed, Breck's Bulbs, & several dozen other seed and plant companies in business, and grow THE most expensive tomatoes & corn in the known universe! I don't even want to Think about what our basil pesto costs to make! Frankly, we should probably simply stop gardening altogether and just plant $100 bills.
24a. Enjoy your money pit veggie garden, and the wild foods in your area. "Foodie" is hot, and food-related photos are THE biggest on-line draw! As we have learned, LOTS of people literally DREAM about picking wild blackberries and making cordial and jam, or of picking wild ramps in the mountains and making pickles. They dream about being able to make hot sauce from their own peppers, wine from their grapes, or pesto and tomato sauce from their garden's basil and tomatoes. Our "foodie" photos of Chef Dan's dinners at the inn get more "likes" and responses than almost anything else! You may not realize it- we didn't at first- but if you have a veggie garden or wild foods in your area, you are living the dream of many, many people! So do it- garden and enjoy your harvests, go pick berries or mushrooms- and take lots of photos, and share them online! And have fun doing the things that the tourists come to you to do- in our case it's ATVing, fly-fishing, and railfanning- and take photos while you're doing it all and share them!
25. NEVER, EVER say “it’s only a 15 minute job”. This is the curse, the jinx, the quote from hell. The minute you say “it’s only a 15 minute job” out loud, know that whatever it is, it will take 2 weeks. “It’s only a one hour job” means it will take 6 weeks. “It should take about a week to finish” means you will be working on it all winter long on a ladder.
26. After you have spent several thousand dollars over 10 years planting tulip bulbs to create a spring lawn so beautiful that cars stop, the voles will come along and eat every single damn tulip bulb, as well as your roses, crocuses, and irises. You will weep and tear your hair out, and then you will go buy more bulbs- and hardware cloth (chicken wire) to wrap them in.
27. Enter sweepstakes and contests. While some folks relax late into the night playing solitaire or Candy Crush, I have found entering sweepstakes to be just as relaxing & FAR more rewarding. Typing my name & address ad infinitum ad nauseum has become a kind of therapy for me- a double bonus, as there are no decent therapists anywhere around here. LOL Most of our holidays (to Israel, Chile, San Diego, Virginia, the Golden Door Spa in AZ...) have been courtesy the sweeps or contests we've won, and thanks to on-line sweeps & contests we have won some fairly amazing things, too, including several pairs of $500 shoes, and Chef Dan's $350 LeCreuset casserole, juicer and sorbet maker; things we would NEVER otherwise own.
28. Only enter sweeps for stuff you Really want to win. Dan still kids me about the case of condoms I won from Trojan. (I'd entered to win a $10K trip to Vegas, but won the runner-up prize instead...)
29. Learn to write. Well. Being able to write your own copy, articles, internet text, speeches, etc. is worth its weight in gold. Learn new computer programs, too. If you can do it yourself, as opposed to out-sourcing it, you will save a LOT of money AND have complete control over how your business is marketed, promoted, and represented. And try not to put anything in writing that you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the NY Times- there is a Very good chance it will wind up on the internet... "Google" yourself and your business periodically. Every time I do I find new things- last week I found 21 of my USCG illustrations from the 1990s on a military website!
30. Figure out what your skill-sets are and use them. Then figure out what your weaknesses are, and marry someone who has those skill-sets. LOL
31. Don't get mad, get even. ;-) If people attempt to rip you off, sue them in your local small claims court & make it stick.
32. Document EVERYTHING. Save EVERY receipt & document. Forever. Ignore this advice at your peril.
33. Don't poop where you eat. No matter where you are FROM, where you're living NOW is Home. Praise it to the skies publicly and to the media. (After all, you Are trying to encourage tourism...) Do this even if sometimes you gnash your teeth into smithereens at night in your sleep, & spend your days slamming your fist through walls in anger & frustration. ;-) This, however, does NOT mean that you have to eat crap. You do not EVER have to eat crap. From Anyone. And if you Do eat crap, you're a shmoe.
34. Become proficient in the legal use of firearms. Even if you never have to use that knowledge or equipment, you need to be empowered by knowing that you can, if need be, defend yourself, your loved ones, and your property. And those around you need to know you are so empowered. And your guests will sleep sounder, as will their cars & ATVs. This is especially important in rural and other areas where calling 911 may result in someone turning up 2 weeks later- if at all.
35. Be pet-friendly. Rescue "thrown away" dogs & cats. Especially kissy, licky, loving pit bulls, who are THE best pets ever! REAL men rescue kitties- "Army Dan" is proof of that!
36. Be child-friendly, too. And family-friendly. And ATV & Biker & Fisherman-friendly. And GLBT-friendly. Hell, just be friendly! Have an ashtray outside for your smokers, a corkscrew for your wine lovers, a highchair for their kiddo, and a treat for their doggie. You are in the Hospitality business, not the Judging business- leave the judging to the judges. You are not out “fix” people- they are not broken- or to change people’s lives; you are out to give them a holiday, and make them truly welcome so they can relax and enjoy it.
36a. Answer the door with a Great Big Smile! This is an old Psych 101 trick- and it works! People instinctively imitate what they see- if you are greeted with a smile, you will usually respond with a smile! Immediately offer them a glass of wine, too. If you're in Rural USA, anyone who's spent the last hour driving on rural (winding, mountain) roads in the dark will need one. Badly. LOL
37. Remember, with regards to Social Media, that you are only as good as your last Tweet or Facebook post. Ignore that Facebook page for a week and everyone will assume you are closed and out of business. Yes, effectively utilizing Social Media is Stupidly time consuming (and if you want to know what I'm doing at 3 a.m., you now have the answer), but it's “FREE”. And, if you use it well, it Really works; the vast majority of our business comes to us via the internet, and Facebook and Twitter have become indispensable. Yes, we have guests who find us through the few specialized magazines we still advertise in, but we had to cut Way back on our print advertising as the economy imploded, and increasingly rely upon "free" Social Media. Twitter has been wonderful for connecting us with media folks, and has resulted in articles on us too numerous to count. Try to think "outside the box" to effectively utilize all the "free" methods of promoting your business online. Example: market research and PR firms, blogs, and panels that offer you a chance to try new products in exchange for reviewing them, may also give you opportunities to (gently, subtly) promote your business. Participating in events such as "Small Business Saturday" via American Express (you do not have to take their card to participate) can be of value for national exposure IF you beat it to death on Social Media. A contest we ran on Facebook a few years ago resulted in wonderful publicity, and the photographer blogger who knocked himself out to win became a repeat guest as well as a good friend. A Groupon deal we offered a few years ago opened us up to a younger demographic. We actively promote the many photographers and authors who have stayed at the inn, sharing their books, blogs, and new work on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. (And yes, we "tag" the Inn in all our posts). I am still trying to figure out more ways to use Pinterest and Instagram... and how to add another 10 hours to the day so I can do it all...
38. Speak your mind when necessary. Strive to be diplomatic, yes, but when the pedal hits the metal, you have to sleep with yourself at night. Don't sweat the small stuff, but when it comes to the Big Stuff- the stuff that's Truly important to you- eat no s*it from anyone and take no prisoners. You CANNOT please everyone, and trying to do so will not only give you ulcers, it will result in failure. As I have learned, people respect you when you stick to your guns. Waffle once in a desperate attempt to be PC & not offend anyone and everyone, & all and sundry will know immediately that you're a pathetic loser.
39. Elisse's Zen: Strive to think like a dog: if you can't eat it or play with it, pee on it and walk away. ;-)
40. Do not accept cash. Credit card only (with an authorization), or a check (if you know them) with a credit card back-up. And make sure EVERYONE knows it. The only places we know that have been robbed are those that accept cash. And if a guest destroys or steals something, you have their credit card.
41. People steal stupid stuff: $7 BigLots clock radios & $3 Wal-Mart flashlights. (They know you have their credit card, so they don't steal Serious Stuff).
42. Your guests will leave you hearing aid batteries. They will also leave you bongs, thongs, bifocals, sex toys, teeth, toiletries, religious books (often secretly stashed in drawers for your next guests to find), & dirty laundry. They will Never accidentally leave you diamond studs. LOL
43. The same people who "hate" smokers LOVE the sexy, olde-timey, home-y smell of a smoking, wood-burning fireplace. LOL
44. Your guest's personal lifestyles are their own business! You are in the hospitality business, NOT the preaching business! If you want to preach, open a house of worship. When we learned a local B&B asked a 60+ year old couple if they were married(!), we almost had a conniption fit. (They're out of business, by the way). If they make their personal business Your business, however, that's another story...
45. Get an answering machine, and put a professional-sounding recording on it. Don't laugh- you wouldn't Believe the number of businesses that don't have either.
46. Get MAGIC JACK. It really works (it's voice-over-data, which means it has to be connected to an on-line computer, and will only work when the computer is on), & for $20/year your guests can have free long distance calling, which, if their cell phones don't work (a Rural America Issue), is Very important. For an extra $10 or so you can even add international calling, which will save you a small fortune if you call overseas a lot.
47. Get DSL & WiFi. A dial-up connection is a ticket to the psych ward. I built our website on a dial-up, so I know from whence I speak. WiFi will get you business clients; dial-up will get you an Rx for anti-depressants. WiFi makes it possible for our guests to take "foodie" photos of their dinners and upload them immediately to Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, or Twitter, & email them to friends and family- and we LOVE that!
48. Get Caller ID. Only realized how great it is after we got it. It's not fool-proof, but it's great, none the less. You can screen out the sales calls and recorded garbage, and when someone tries to extort money out of you (as happened to us), you will know who and where they are- and so will the cops. :-)
49. Return phone messages & answer emails as promptly as possible. Talk to the people who call, and take the time to research & answer their questions. Don't laugh- you wouldn't Believe the number of businesses that don't do either. I often pull up www.mapquest.com while I'm on the phone to give potential guests drive-times and directions, and when fisher-people call to book, we often run outside to check if the creek is high & how the fish are running!
50. If you build it they WILL come! Research & craft a good business plan, and then believe in your dreams & go for them with Everything you've got! Even when everyone around you says you're nuts, & the gov't folks who supposedly want to "hep" you, confidently assure you that you will fail and go bankrupt in 6 months. (It also helps if your back is against the wall. If you really have no "plan B", you will really Have to stick to it and make it work...)
50a. Be open-minded and change your business as you need to. When we first opened, we Never imagined Dan would become a serious Chef, and we'd wind up as an inn famed for it's fine dining! We also added a Gift Shop/Gallery and our Museum Room, so we could offer other things that didn't exist in this area. And we're still dreaming of the many other things we'd like to do once we win Lotto...
51. If & when you find a house-sitter or employees whom you can trust, treasure them. They are literally worth their weight in gold and scarcer than hen's teeth. If you have the "can-do" work ethic you probably have in order to have started an inn in the first place, you will probably be sorely disappointed in the vast majority of the personnel you hire; sadly, the "can-do" work ethic is now very rare, indeed. And if your B&B is in a rural area you may be dismayed to learn that most "professional" house/pet or inn-sitters want to get paid $100+/night to stay in a cute town full of gingerbread Victorians, coffee shops, book stores, and antique shops. Happily, we finally found, via www.trustedhousesitters.com, people who actually LIKE and WANT to be in Extremely Rural USA! Woot!
52. Do NOT hire family. (Not our family, anyway. LOL) Remember that friends are G-d’s thank-you-present to make up for the family He sticks you with. ;-)
52a. The happy by-product of being an Inn-Keeper is that many of your guests will actually become your friends- Real friends. You will even find people who like your politics enough to want to be your personal friend on Facebook. LOL
53. If you are self-employed in ANY profession, hire an accountant to do & file your taxes. DO NOT DO YOUR OWN TAXES. I learned this from the Graphic Artists Guild in NYC as an illustrator, and it is serious and important advice which you ignore at your peril. An accountant/ tax preparer MUST take legal responsibility if they screw up or you get audited. You do NOT want to be alone if that happens.
54. Ah, coal dust... the "Martha Stewart Appalachian Paint Finish". It settles into paint before its dry, permanently stains tablecloths, gets into the pores of your skin while you garden, & permeates EVERYTHING, inside & out, 24/7. Do not ask me about "dusting" unless you want to see me tear my hair out by the roots, & run, screaming, through the bldg. LOL
55. You will get phone calls asking you to do a wedding reception dinner for $7.50 a person... and others asking to rent (or if they can "just have") a room for a party to which they will bring their own food. You will have people ask why they can't bring their own food to your restaurant (because it's against the law, dear...), and insist that “finger food” Has to be cheaper than "hors d’oeuvres" (what my Okie uncle always liked to amusingly refer to as “horse's douvers”). Or why they can't put 6 people in a room with a double bed and "let the kids sleep on the floor". Or put 8 ATVing guys in that same room, because they like to "live rough". You will have people bang on your door at 3 a.m. because their husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/parents threw them out of a car in front of your inn, or they ran out of gas conveniently in your parking lot, or a bear strolled out of the creek and rammed the front of their SUV... You will get calls from people wanting to stay for free because "the previous owner let me", and others will ask if they can stay for a month for $150, as "that's what my boss told me it would cost". Others will decide to "spread out" and use two unoccupied guest rooms "because no one else was using them" and not want to pay for them. (Try that at the Hilton and see where it lands you...) You will hear an incredulous "You're more expensive than the Holiday Inn!", and at least one person will ask you to "take a 10% cut for Jesus". But my all-time fave is the call I got asking "Do you rent rooms? Yes? Does it cost anything?" And you will be Nice to all of them... Because you are in the $%#@!! Hospitality Business. LOL
56. If you live in a rural area, bugs & other critters will be your nemesis, & come close to driving you right 'round the twist. Moths that will eat your carpets & sweaters & die in your lamps; "ladybug" beetles that will drop off the ceilings in the spring by the hundreds (& then turn into moths); stinkbugs that retreat into your home in the winter and die by the thousands, mostly while hiding behind the drapes; spiders that daily spin webs in your windows & take up residence in your bathrooms; Japanese beetles that will destroy your veggie garden & roses, bears who will eat your garbage can lids, snakes who'll scare the living poopies out of you, because you thought they were garden hoses... And every year something NEW will arise: for us, 2012 will always be The Year of The Voles From Hell- the ones who ate $2500 worth of tulip bulbs and rose bushes. And much as you will hate to do so, eventually you probably Will break down & poison the beejeezus out of them... (We didn't, by the way, poison the voles, as we have pets and want to be able to plant veggies and herbs in our garden; we just used hardware cloth when we planted all the new bulbs in the Money Pit).
57. There is NOTHING- and I do mean NOTHING- that gets my dander up like having someone knock on the door and ask me "is this Billie Cherry's place?" Billie Cherry- the convicted felon who owned our building for a brief period in the ‘90s- is dead. She died in the Federal Penitentiary several years ago, having been convicted and sentenced to 16 years for committing, together with her girlfriend, Terry Church, the 10th largest bank collapse fraud in US history and bilking several hundred million dollars from retired miners. (“But she sure was a nice old lady”, as one gentleman who’d lost $70K in the scandal told us).The Elkhorn Inn has been the Elkhorn Inn for 12+ years now, and that’s not only known nation-wide, it's on the Great, Big Sign in our parking lot, too, so acting like you don't know that is insulting to both of us. When we bought this building from the court (and no one bid against us), it had been flooded twice, ransacked, and abandoned for over 2 years, had an internal water line 4' high and 6' of mold, a leaking roof, 5' of mud in the basement, busted pipes, no doors, and was slated for demolition. After we bought it and began to restore it, Cherry's employee, "Creepy", broke our door in and stole the last 17 pieces of old furniture in the building. Our blood, sweat, tears, love, and sweat equity are Literally in the walls and floors of this building. So do NOT expect me to throw my arms around you in joy when you walk through the Inn admiring our antiques and art, and ask me, over and over again: "Is this Billie Cherry's?"
58. Do not tolerate proselytizers; think of them as two-legged Japanese Beetles.