Once upon a time, Karen Barton dreamed of owning a bed and breakfast. That was nearly 26 years ago. The dream never got past the fairytale phase until now. “I had given up on the dream because God wanted me to be a missionary,” says Karen, “and missionaries are supposed to live a life of sacrifice, not own a B&B.”
But in 2007, Karen, a single mom at the time, was flipping through a real estate guide looking for a home to buy. That's when she saw that a bed and breakfast in a small, sleepy southern town near Table Rock Mountain, South Carolina was up for sale. “When I saw the B&B in the guide, my dreams came back.”
But they quickly began evaporating as her eyes moved down the page to the price. It was much more than she could afford. “I knew it was impossible to buy it. The inn was just too expensive. Plus, it would be too much for me to run the B&B and do my new job (as a hotel consultant).” Still, deep down inside, Karen was not really ready to let it go.
Then, circumstances changed dramatically in the span of a few weeks, breathing life back into her dream. This made Karen wonder if she was being drawn into a bigger picture than just operating a bed and breakfast. “I found the inn because I was looking for a house to buy, but I felt God was directing my search,” explains Karen.
She spoke with a friend at church about her dream of becoming a B&B owner. After their conversation, Karen began to see the inn as an opportunity to fulfill her call to be a missionary. So she and her friend decided to visit the bed and breakfast. There, she met the owner and explained her situation and the dream she had. He responded by saying he had a similar goal and explained how he operated the inn. Karen listened, mentally taking notes.
Days later, as Karen recalls, she “felt a strong urge to call the owner” on Easter Sunday and continue their discussion. She shared suggestions she thought would boost the inns’ bottom line. The owner then told her the B&B was becoming too much for him to maintain and operate.
Not long after that conversation, Karen learned that the inn had, indeed, become too heavy a financial burden for the owner. As a result, he had to let it go on the auction block. Karen felt she had to do something. She did not want her dream to die.
So, ten days before the auction, she swung into action. “I faxed the mortgage company with an offer but didn’t hear anything back from them. I thought I had lost the inn.” In a last ditch effort to save her dream, Karen prepared a bid and drove to the auction with two of her friends from church. Just before the bidding started, the auctioneers announced the inn had been pulled off the auction block. To Karen, that could only mean one thing. The mortgage company was considering her offer.
Again, her dream began to rise from the ashes. This time Karen knew the inn was going to have to take priority in her life. As she feverishly tried to work out her schedule to fit in everything, the situation began shifting in her favor in ways she now believes only God could have orchestrated.
A new position, more suited to her situation, became available within the corporation where she worked. Though she had only been employed at the company for a short time, she decided to apply for the position. To her amazement, she got it, which meant she could do all her work from home.
Soon after that, Karen got a reprieve from her hectic schedule. “I got a week off from work,” she says, “because my company lost my computer.” But that wasn’t all. With excitement in her voice Karen tells what happened next. “My landlord called and told me he had a buyer for the house I was renting from him.” This meant that she could begin moving into the B&B at her leisure as manager. Meanwhile, she checked her messages for any word from the mortgage company regarding her bid.
After a long wait, she finally got news. Surprisingly, the mortgage company refused the bid! The B&B went back on the auction block. Karen bid again.
This time, the auctioneer's gavel came down in her favor at a much lower price than her original bid, making her the inn’s new owner. She began tackling a laundry list of improvements, and soon the Victorian-style bed and breakfast which for a decade had adorned the hillside across from Table Rock Mountain, was ready again for visitors. Karen’s dream had finally become reality!
The picture she had in mind from the beginning was now complete…with the exception of one “small” detail. During the process of buying the inn, she met a very special man. Now, she has a partner in the business – her husband, Dave.