Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By: Anne Marie Yurik
Tink and Mike Durbin are not immune to the effects of aging. The stairs are no longer climbed easily, and with uncertainty in the aging process, Tink and Mike do not want to idly sit and wait until they get physically hurt or ill to retire.
Mike and Tink plan to sell Country Charm, a bed and breakfast located in Shelbyville, IL after a seven year streak, because they want to retire while they are still healthy, and Mike’s age of 68 and Tink’s age of 65 are constantly increasing.
Country Charm is a two-story home with blue detailing and a cozy atmosphere, which is presented in the form of thick antique rugs, floral wall paper and disney knick knacks.
Tink and Mike opened the doors to this establishment in 2007 after some problems in the walls delayed the opening by a year. However, the house was originally built in 1858. Before they purchased the house, it was used as a single family home, an establishment for nurse boarding, a studio apartment, a duplex, and a bed and breakfast.
Mike said that he would like to sell the house, disney figurines and all. He simply wants to pack up his clothes and leave when the time comes.
“I would like to sell it, just the way it is,” Mike said.
Despite this goal, the house did not sell right away, so it is not currently on the market. Mike plans to put it back up in about six months. He acknowledges that the house might not be selling because of the original $260,000 pricing. None the less, Mike is reluctant to lower the price.
“I sunk a lot of money into this house, and I’d love to make some money back,” Mike said.
A dream of his would be to sell his house to those who would like to preserve it as a bed and breakfast, Mike said. Because they owned the bed and breakfast, Mike said he and his wife have experienced the company of many interesting individuals.
Mike has hosted an elderly ballroom dancer couple stay in his bed and breakfast. He recalled how they both went out dancing on the man’s 90th birthday. They both had suffered the loss of a spouse about 20 years before they met. They still live alone in their individual homes, but they travel around Illinois together, Mike said. He admires the platonic yet strong bond the couple shared.
Mike said that they could talk to their guests for hours, if the guests wanted, because he and his wife enjoy getting to know people.
“Everybody is different,” Mike said. “Everyone has a different life span or lifestyle, and it is wonderful to be able to sit down and talk to them and figure out what makes them tick. And that is something that my wife and I both enjoy.”
In the end, the hardest thing, Mike said, was ensuring that those who stay in Country Charm feel as if they are in their second home.
In order to fulfill this goal, Mike and Tink prepare all the meals for their guests, offer comfy beds and a nice place to stay. Mike said that they make breakfast foods that could not be picked up from a supermarket. Mike makes Belguim waffles and traditional French toast to serve.
In the future, Mike and Tink plan to travel and see all the states after their retirement. As for where they will stay, the decision is up in the air, but they are taking it one step at a time and enjoying their numbered days left at the bed and breakfast.
“I don’t know about when our last months at the B&B are gonna be,” Mike said. “I’m going to enjoy it until the day I leave. I enjoy it now. So, therefore, yes, if somebody came in and plucked the money down on the table, then I would probably enjoy it just as much then as I did the first day we walked in.”