Guyon: The entrepreneurial spirit

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(HOST) This winter, the entrepreneurial spirit of Vermont has been very much on the mind of writer Annie Guyon, who offers her account of what it has taken to acquire yet another hat.

(GUYON) Ever since moving here eight years ago, I’ve joked about the unwritten law in Vermont that you have to wear at least two professional hats.  As of this month, I wear four: marketing consultant, freelance journalist, occasional tap dance teacher and now, B-n-B owner as well.  Actually, it’s a guest suite at the back of my house but I had to get a formal B-n-B license, the first of what I discovered was a long list of official papers.

I’d thought renting a room out to visitors would simply be a case of getting a local zoning permit, slapping up some fresh paint, cannibalizing my livingroom for various decorative tchotchkes and bringing down the old TV that’s been sitting in the attic.

Au contraire.    

What I’d envisioned as simply making smart use of a part of my house that’s only occupied when friends and family visit, has become the most protracted, complex undertaking of my entire life.  But hey, I’ve made friends with folks at the Waste Water Department, the Health Department, the Tax Department and now count the Fire Marshall and the entire staff at my local hardware store as trusted advisors.  I’ve had a fancy cap put on my well (you know, that state-of-the-art, two-vent kind); special safety-code handrails added to the balcony stairs; a twenty-five-hundred dollar, energy-efficient propane heater installed; and I bought a spiffy new queen bed, futon couch, kitchen table, chairs, dishes, appliances, reading lamps and linens, among many other things.  Oh and a new TV.

After feeling as if I’d been starring in my own year-long episode of Extreme Makeover, I was all set.  Or so I thought.

Just as I was about to announce to the world that we were finally open for business, an ice storm came through and the bathroom pipes froze.  Suddenly the place was once again strewn with tools, sawdust and hardware as my significant other and I ripped out cabinets in order to access the culprit arctic air surrounding outer-wall pipes.  The cabinets have now been duly restored, albeit with fancy screened sections to let the ambient room heat in, and I’ve been able to laugh at my steep flatlander learning curve, thankful that at least it didn’t happen when I had guests.

So the permits are posted, the pipes are toasty, the pillows fluffed and the website launched.  A year after this idea first took hold in my many-chapeaued head, it has finally become a reality and I’m excited to be an innkeeper now too.

Oh but wait – I forgot to get a boot scraper!

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