Innkeepers Bruce and Brenda Grove bring many years of experience as world travelers and frequent inn stayers to The Inn on the Green. Because they are often asked how they became innkeepers in a small Vermont village, Brenda put together the following account shortly after they embarked on their new adventure in 2008 …
“In our previous lives, Bruce was a strategic marketing manager for 3M and I was a technical writer. We had (and have!) two fine sons, Andy and Charlie. Although we both grew up in New England and upstate New York, we had lived very happily in Austin, TX for nearly 20 years, along with stays in Cleveland, OH, St. Paul, MN, and Singapore. We led a pretty typical successful suburban lifestyle — we lived in a nice house, our kids were great, we had good jobs, we had lots of great friends, we were able to travel pretty frequently — and we were generally satisfied with the way things had unfolded for us.
Then, about 12 years ago, we challenged ourselves to think about what we would really like to do after our two wonderful sons were grown up and independent. We thought a lot about various experiences and activities that we had enjoyed over the years. One of our favorite experiences together was engaging in a series of long-distance point-to-point walks (“rambles”) in the U.K. and Ireland, and one of our favorite parts of those walks was staying in small country inns and B&Bs along the way. Thus, an idea was born! IF our sons were grown up and independent and IF we were financially where we needed to be and IF our health were good, wouldn’t it be fun to be innkeepers? And as our roots are in New England and even after so many happy years away, we still missed the landscape and the seasonal changes of the northeast, wouldn’t it be fun to be innkeepers in New England?
After this germ of an idea was formed, Bruce threw himself into investigating what innkeeping is all about. He read lots of information for prospective innkeepers and checked out some properties online. Together, we did lots of “research” by visiting several different areas in New England and staying in lots of inns! Before long, we decided that our target would be central Vermont, and we had the good fortune to make contact with a very helpful inn broker in Burlington, Gary Gosselin of The Hearthside Group. Although we were clearly still at the “What if, maybe someday…” stage, Gary set up a series of opportunities for us to stay in inns and chat with innkeepers around central Vermont. Those innkeepers were very generous in sharing with us how they became innkeepers, things they liked and disliked about owning an inn, things that did or didn’t work well, things they wish they’d known … All of this information helped us gradually to figure out what kind of property we’d like to own someday IF all of the necessary conditions came together!
Fast forward now to October 2007. By this time, both of our sons had graduated from the University of Texas at Austin (go ‘Horns!) and were independent and launched in their careers. Bruce and I, now empty-nesters, were continuing to work in our jobs, anticipating that in a few years, Bruce would retire from 3M, I would likely also retire from my job, and with a bit of luck, we’d be in a position to realize our innkeeping plans. Suddenly, however, Bruce was presented with a completely unexpected opportunity to take an early retirement from 3M with a good package and a bridge to full retirement that would protect his pension and medical benefits. The universe was conspiring to make us Vermont innkeepers sooner, rather than later!
Bruce finished up at 3M in December 2007 and in January 2008, enrolled in a full slate of Hospitality Management classes at Austin Community College, both to learn some of the nuts & bolts of the business and to re-confirm that this was still a path he wanted to take. At the end of that semester, he flew up to the northeast for a family visit and also reconnected with Gary and let him know we were ready to move forward. Gary invited him to come up and see a couple of properties just as a starting point … and one of those properties was The Inn on the Green.
I guess the rest is history! Bruce fell in love with Middlebury and The Inn on the Green, and a couple of weeks later, I flew up and also loved the place. Bruce put together a great business plan, worked through all the financing requirements, set up inspections and engineering reports, and otherwise moved things along at a brisk pace. We closed on the inn at the end of September 2008, right in the midst of the busy fall foliage season. We were off and running as innkeepers!”