Think of your perfect veranda – think Bloomsbury Inn. Spring is with us and it makes for a great time to sit on the veranda. Warm in the day and cool at night. The veranda is a quiet and comfortable place to sit in the evening after dinner. A soft wind makes the trees sway slightly, and it sounds like the trees are talking softly. Our oak trees are over 170 years old and if only they could reveal their secrets of what they have seen and heard.
The stories that come from Bloomsbury Inn are grand in their honestly and positive light they show our guests. We are often asked if it is difficult to serve over 1,000 different personalities a year. And the answer is no. All have a story.
Several years ago, we were fortunate to have Tracy Britt Cool stay with us. If you get a chance to meet her, please do. She represents the bright, young and upcoming leaders in the world of business.
She was raised in Kansas and from the beginning was an entrepreneur. When she was 10 years old, she set up her own farmers market stand. She hired friends and set prices for her product. She worked out the logistics of moving her product from harvest to stand to quality control to record keeping. Impressive for a 10-year-old.
She went to Harvard as an undergraduate and stayed to earn her MBA. While at Harvard she was one of the founders of Smart Woman Securities. Her desire after leaving Harvard was to work for Warren Buffett. An opportunity arose for her to have lunch with her hero, Warren Buffet. When she arrived, she presented him with a basket of fresh produce and by the time lunch was over, Mr. Buffett was impressed. Soon, he offered her a job as a financial assistant. Her career with Berkshire Hathaway began.
When we met her, she was serving as Chairman of Benjamin Moore paints. Katherine and I are big fans of this paint. The interior of Bloomsbury is painted with Benjamin Moore, and we were excited that she was coming.
Now as an innkeeper, we need to restrain ourselves in our thoughts and opinions. It is not our place, and quite frankly, usually not appreciated by our guests. But I couldn’t restrain myself. During social hour, I gushed about how great Benjamin Moore’s product is. Katherine warned me to ease up on my positive comments about Benjamin Moore, but I could not hold back. I talked about the great service her stores gave. And I went on how the big box stores just didn’t give that type of service. My favorite story about the big box stores was when I tried to ask three different employees for help in the paint department. One was going on break, the other didn’t know, and I think the third didn’t care.
Well, to put it mildly, I over did it. I happened to be at the exit to the grounds of Bloomsbury when Tracy was departing. I still could not resist. She stopped and I still sang the praises for Benjamin Moore.
I thought that was the end of it. About a year later a series of commercials were released by Benjamin Moore that involved two puppets posing as big box store employees. During these commercials they portrayed the conduct I previously described about big box stores. I laughed so hard telling Katherine how I had witnessed similar conduct when I shopped for paint at those stores. Of course, the point of the commercial was that Benjamin Moore gives you the personal service you need. I thought it was a great commercial and reflected well on what Benjamin Moore represents.
Katherine just stared at me. She asked if I watched the commercial carefully. I thought I had. She asked me what were the names of the puppets. I didn’t remember. She said wait until you see it again and then tell me. I saw the commercial again and the left puppet had a hand written name on his apron. I couldn’t believe it….Bruce.
Now, I know it was probably a coincidence, but I couldn’t help but beam with pride. In my own way, I was representing Benjamin Moore. At least in my mind.
When Tracy left Benjamin Moore, she became the CEO of Pampered Chef. now leads Pampered Chef as their CEO and is doing a super job. It shows that great business organizations are listening to their customers. Today she is an independent business professional again.
Back to the Veranda
As I sit on the veranda and reflect on our past guests, I am amazed at their effect on me. I listen and marvel at their experiences. I travel the world through them. I learn from them. What a great job it is to be an innkeeper.
While most of us are staying in our homes due to the pandemic, the draw to the veranda is still stronger than the television here at Bloomsbury. The Bloomsbury frog is still singing somewhere out there in the trees. Talk to you next time…on the Veranda of Bloomsbury Inn.