The Challenges Of B&Bs

By Laura Moore, posted Feb 21, 2020
The C.W. Worth House bed and breakfast, at 412 S. Third St. in downtown Wilmington, has been welcoming guests since 1985. (Photo c/o C.W. Worth House)
Margi and Doug Erickson offer a laid-back atmosphere at the C.W. Worth House, a Victorian inn and bed and breakfast establishment in downtown Wilmington.
“We are casual and like to have fun,” Doug Erickson said. “There’s nothing stuffy about us,” Margi Erickson added. Unfortunately, the small business faces challenges. The Ericksons fear that the world of traditional bed and breakfast accommodations seems to be falling by the wayside in favor of big-chain hotels and short-term rentals such as those found on Airbnb. That can be especially true for business travelers.
“We want to accommodate them, and we are a good alternative to a hotel,” Margi Erickson said.
With many of the same amenities a business traveler is looking for, the C.W. Worth House offers Wi-Fi, free newspapers and early or late check in, along with a personal touch.
That personal touch is why the C.W. Worth House is celebrating 20 years of business this year providing hospitality to “hardworking people who need a getaway” and business travelers alike.
Many bed and breakfast businesses have not had the luck that the Ericksons have had.
There are fewer and fewer. There were 23 in 1995 and today there are now 11 viable bed and breakfasts in the downtown area, the Ericksons said.
The aging population of innkeepers has contributed to the drop in that number, as well as restrictions set forth by the city limiting the number of allowable guest rooms to three.
“Since 1995, … three-bedroom businesses have closed,” Margi Erickson said. “It is impossible to do a viable business when the number of guest rooms doesn’t support the expense,” Doug Erickson added.
Many of the three-bedroom inns sold as private houses during the early 2000s.
Even as much as they love what they do, the Ericksons are also ready to move on.
“We are not actively listed but do want to sell,” Margi Erickson said. “We will be listing with an agent in the next month or so.”
The couple opened the bed and breakfast in the Victorian tradition in 1999.
“This has been ideal for us. We both love people and entertaining,” Margi Erickson said. “And we love Wilmington, so we want our guests to enjoy it as much as we do.”
Offering a full “Chef’s choice” breakfast each morning for up to 14 people, the Ericksons pride themselves on being flexible for business travelers.
“We work with our corporate guests to accommodate them,” Doug Erickson said.
The unique residence, built in 1893, has modern amenities and provides a beautiful backdrop for a casual visit or important event, the Ericksons said.
The residence has also become a fan favorite for small weddings and vow renewals for small parties of up to 14 people.
Each room has a private full bathroom and there are refreshment areas on each floor. The second-floor porch overlooks a manicured garden equipped with a waterfall.
“Guests love the porch. They love to sit out there with a refreshment or a book,” Margi Erickson said.
The top floor has three guest rooms that open out to a cozy shared living space with a television, games, puzzles and books.
The small community of bed and breakfast owners are supportive of one another, keeping their focus on the idea that “there’s something for everyone.”
“We all work together and are friendly to each other, referring each other’s businesses when we are full,” Margi Erickson explained.
Hotels and short-term rentals “probably have affected our business, but we focus on the position that there is something for everyone and we attract a certain clientele,” Doug Erickson said.
“We like to be who we are and run with it, and we just get the best guests,” Doug Erickson said. “We really do.”
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