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The price of success

Owners of three prominent Nevada City bed and breakfast inns have put their businesses up for sale, even though they say the businesses are strong.

Chuck Shea, owner of The Parsonage, and Eileen Strangfeld, of Deer Creek Inn, said their businesses have steadily increased in the past couple of years.

The owners variously said they were tired of the daily grind, wanted to be closer to family or preferred to focus on a different side of the business. And business could be even better with more foot traffic downtown created by stores staying open later, one inn owner said.



But even success has its costs. Running a B&B is more than a full-time job, the inn owners said.

“It’s hard to take off for two or three weeks,” said MaryAnne Kelly, owner of Flume’s End on South Pine Street. “It’s a year round business.”




The work has been fun, but has left her with little down time. After eight years of ownership – more than she had expected when she took on the business – Kelly has had enough.

Flumes End has been closed while Kelly is on medical leave. She doesn’t anticipate reopening the business until late spring, she said. That will give her both a rest and take advantage of the high season, typically from May to December, Kelly said.

Deer Creek Inn

Strangfeld and her husband, Ken Strangfeld, have put Deer Creek Inn on the market so they can move closer to grandchildren in Oregon and Washington. They don’t want to be so far away from them anymore, she said.

“We really miss them, and that is why we’re selling,” Eileen Strangfeld said.

Though their Deer Creek B&B is for sale, Strangfeld added, they are “not in a hurry to just dump the inn.”

The Parsonage

Parsonage owner Shea said he has been having fun running the inn, but wants to focus more on the real estate end of the business.

“I build the business up,” Shea said. Now that it is running well, he added, it’s time to sell.

Business could be even better if the city’s economic development groups, specifically the Business Improvement District (BID), did more to promote Nevada City businesses, Shea said. He has been a vocal opponent of the BID, especially for the level at which it taxes participating businesses.

He also would like to see more of a marketing effort for downtown Nevada City and for more businesses to stay open at night, giving inn customers more to do in the evening and making the town more attractive as a tourist destination during the week.

Disagreement on marketing

Strangfeld said she’s heard Shea’s concerns, but doesn’t agree.

“It’s up to each business owner to market their own business,” Strangfeld said. “Anything the chamber or the BID do is gravy.”

Kelly and Strangfeld generally agreed it would make their inns more attractive if more downtown businesses were open in the evening, but said they don’t think it hurts their inns for stores to close at 5 p.m.

There are not enough customers during the evening hours to justify businesses staying open late, said BID Chairman Jim McConnaughay.

Evening customers increase during holidays and festivals, but that is more often the exception than the rule, McConnaughay said.

“It takes a certain critical mass” for stores to stay open later, McConnaughay said.

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To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail gregm@theunion.com or call 477-4234.


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