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Second Careers: Innkeepers

Former pastor and teacher found room at the inn

spinner image Innkeepers Bill and Linda Perry, cooking in their kitchen
Dustin Cohen

BILL PETRY, 74 and LINDA PETRY, 70 | $160,000 per year

"We honeymooned at a B&B. Now we own one"

Home: Lewisburg, Pa.

Previous life: Lutheran pastor (Bill), family and consumer science teacher (Linda)

Why they did it: Staying at bed-and-breakfast inns as we honeymooned in New England, we would often muse that running an inn might be fun after we retired. Twenty years later, our youngest child was preparing for college. We started asking ourselves what we were going to do with the rest of our lives. I told Linda that, if we were ever going to do the B&B thing, I didn’t want to start it at 75.

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How they did it: You need a location that attracts regular visitors; college towns are good options. It took us 18 months of searching to find the right place—a home in the Susquehanna River Valley, about 160 miles northwest of Philadelphia. This was formerly a private home, so we had to navigate zoning meetings. We began stripping wallpaper, planting beds and window boxes, and doing countless other do-it-yourself projects. Linda began making window treatments and testing recipes. Now she is known locally as “the breakfast lady.”

What you need to know: At some point, you may suffer anxiety when you realize something that was once a pipe dream is becoming real. Breathe deep and keep going.

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