Thursday, September 3, 2015

Nick's Notes 9.4.2015--Dreams Come True

Dreams Come True

I've shared with you that I had a wonderful retail career with three great companies, but owning a Bed and Breakfast was a 15 year dream of mine. I remember my parents always teaching us the importance of living our dreams in our lives, and to live life to the fullest. They encouraged us to travel and see as much of the United States, Canada and Europe as we could. I've been to 49 States and so many countries. We took family car trips every year and we saw different states, learning about each state along the way.

Our trips were educational and my mom quizzed us on the capitals, the presidents and our spelling. I can hear my dad saying, "You can do anything you set your mind to, so do all you can and live your dreams. Don't over extend yourself financially,  but work hard so you can enjoy your life, and do what you want and love." My dad worked hard to support us and made sure we had fun as we grew up.

A favorite picture of my Dad and me
After University, I worked for a few small retail chains as a Store Manager in Raleigh and Charlotte, NC, and then a District Manager for the same company, before joining the Gap in NY. I was a District Manager in Queens and after three years I advanced my career forward by moving to Canada for Gap to help open all the stores and train new District Managers. It was a wonderful experience and I enjoyed living in Toronto and Montreal for five years and I still have great friends there. 

The Toronto Flag

The Montreal Flag
That's where I was promoted to a Regional Manager and my career took off from then on. When I moved back to the states I stayed with Gap Inc. but switched brands to Banana Republic. I was based in Chicago and covered the entire Midwest before continuing my career in the Southeast based in Florida. A big part of my job was working with the Merchant Team to create a Hot Store Program for the right clothing styles and materials for warm weather. Eventually Texas was added on to my region and I had 11 District Managers I supervised.

Everything was great, but I wanted to expand my career with Department store experience so after 18 years with Gap Inc. I accepted a Regional Vice President Job with Kohl's Department Stores. The main priority was to help Kohl’s expand and open stores in Florida. I was there 18 months, but missed specialty retail and customer service. That's what made me successful in passion for the customer and exceeding their expectations.

So, that's where Williams-Sonoma comes in. I accepted a position as Regional Vice President for the Southeast covering New Jersey through Florida, and was still based in Florida. Eventually all 10 Outlets were added to my Region and it was a wonderful 8 years where my passion for cooking continued to grow and I was able to purchase products I now use daily to prepare great breakfasts for our guests at Abbington Green.

 All my supervisors always knew my dream was to open a Bed and Breakfast one day. I continue to stay in touch with most of my supervisors and coworkers and some have already come to visit us at the Inn. They also follow us on the Abbington Green Facebook Page and read our reviews on  TripAdvisor.

Now for the dream part. The original idea for a Bed and Breakfast/Spa was to open it in Greece on the Island of Santorini. 

Santorini, Greece

As my 15 year time frame approached, Greece was a much harder venture for several reasons, so Abbington Green Bed and Breakfast Inn in Asheville, NC was the perfect spot. I am so lucky to have had a wonderful retail career, that prepared me to understand the importance and the priority of the customer. My staff here learned this expectation and we strive daily to make our guests feel as welcomed in our home as they would with their own families. It was frightening to walk away from a great retail career where everything was going well...............not to mention the steady salary, bonus structure and stock options. But the good news retail career funded my dream and allowed me to live and do what I want to do. I've always had the support of my partner Steve, who still works for the Post Office here delivering mail and then helps at the Inn on his days off. (Remember in an earlier post I showed you Steve's wonderful gardens.)

In the lower garden, facing the Inn

Steve's handiwork on display at Abbington Green B&B Inn
So,  I leave you with two quotes I love:

"Nothing Happens Unless We First Dream" -Carl Sandburg (You can tour
his home in Flat Rock, NC which is 45 minutes from here  ) 

"All Our Dreams Can Come True, If We Have the Courage to Pursue Them." 
-Walt Disney

All the Best, Nick

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