Own This B&B!

Tour-Dragonfly-Inn-dining-rm-set-611x458I’ve never quite understood the “own a B&B” dream myself: the idea of having to get up early and cook breakfast for, and then clean up after, strangers every day makes me queasy. And in Maine? Jesus. Dealing with the snow alone would be  a full-time job. But if I were going to do it, this gorgeous, historic inn is the kind of place I would choose. Especially since I so admire this entrepreneur’s strategy for finding the ideal new owner of her property, which is like Willy Wonka meets Kickstarter meets “Gilmore Girls.”

Janice Sage, the owner and innkeeper of the Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant, wants to retire. Rather than sell the inn traditionally, however, she is holding an essay contest to find the person who will treat the old place right. She is charging $125 per entry, and hopes to attract at least 7,500 contestants, netting her the $900,000 estimated value of the property.

Where did she get the idea to hand off the inn that way? That’s how she got it.

Back in 1993, the Center Lovell Inn was owned by Bil and Susie Mosca. They held an essay contest, charging $100 per entry, and Janice was the winner. The contest attracted a lot of media attention at the time, including a feature on The Phil Donahue Show. Janice doesn’t have the media power of the Donahue behind her, but she does have the Internet. What do you say? Do you want to help make her rich, and have a chance at owning your own piece of history in the process?

Help make her rich! Help make her rich! Oh, sorry, is my bias showing?

Maine B&B screenshot

More about what’s required:

The essay must be no more than 200 words, written in English, and explain why the writer is the right caretaker for the inn. It must be typed or legibly handwritten. The rules don’t say anything about essays written in calligraphy with a quill pen on a piece of faded parchment, but you should definitely do that. If you think you’re going to beat that person, you just don’t understand B&B culture.

A contest entry fee of $125 is pretty steep, it’s true. On the other hand, kids had to shell out for those Willy Wonka chocolate bars in order to find those elusive golden tickets, too. And this news item seems to be going around like a wet cough. Maybe she’ll make her goal on semi-ironic hipster Lumbersexual entries alone. If not, she has still raised the profile of her business and will probably be able to sell it for more than she would have been able to before.

Also, if global warming renders everything south of the Mason-Dixon line uninhabitable, $125 to get a safe retreat in Maine will seem like an excellent investment. Better than $775 a month to live in 90 square feet in Manhattan, anyway.

You can read Sage’s original essay, which won her the B&B lo these many years ago, here.

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