By Amanda Kuhnert
Rita Wood likes to stay busy. That’s why she knew retirement wouldn’t include much downtime. “When the pandemic hit and my time for retirement as a speech/language pathologist was approaching, I thought about the future,” she said. “Being someone who can’t do nothing for very long, I mentioned to my husband Corey that I wanted to run an inn.” The couple enjoyed staying at inns during their travels, and Rita thought this would be a fun way to combine her love of cooking and entertaining.
The Woods had spent time in Vermont over the years, and so it felt like a natural place to begin their search. “While looking, we were told about the Fox Creek Inn in Chittenden,” Rita said. “It was out of our price range, but it was love at first sight and the previous owner sold us on the place.” They were soon under contract and preparing for a summer move.
Despite their excellent credit ratings, Rita and Corey ran into trouble getting financing due to the banks’ cautious approach to lending during the pandemic. Rita reached out to the Vermont Economic Development Authority for help securing their loan, and the organization put her in touch with Nancy Shuttleworth, an advisor with the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC), for assistance completing their business plan.
“Working with Nancy put our minds at ease,” Rita said. “She was most helpful and patient as she helped us to create a business plan with projections for the next three years. We found her help to be valuable and instrumental in helping us to get the loan.”
The Woods closed on the inn in June and held their grand opening in July. “We reopened the Fox Creek Inn at a good time when people are wanting to get away but still cautious about the number of people they encounter,” Rita said. Along with a picnic basket lunch and dinner option, the couple has made other Covid-related adjustments, such as putting contactless soap dispensers in their guest rooms and hand sanitizers in the common areas.
Just a few months into her new business venture, Rita is spending time networking. “As a business owner, I have learned the importance of making connections throughout the community and the state—and getting the word out that we are open for business and ready to provide food and lodging for the weary traveler or for someone just wanting to get away from the rat race.”
For more info: www.foxcreekinnvt.com.
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