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A Good-Life Retirement Goal Realized

Jim and Patricia Haddock weren’t about to go quietly into retirement.

In 2015, the longtime SELCO members and property owners found themselves with a vacant commercial building in Veneta after 13 years of renting the space as a beauty salon. As Jim neared retirement from his career working in a surgery center, he and Patricia weighed what to do with the building. Sell it? Rent it out to another small-business owner? Or was it finally time to open the bed and breakfast they’d always kept in the back of their minds?

They chose the latter. Through lots of sweat equity and the help of a SELCO home equity loan, the Haddocks transformed the property into a unique, yurt-themed B&B named Yurtel Veneta.

“This is our good-life retirement goal, and SELCO was there to help realize it,” Jim says. “Now I get to do something I love—giving our guests 5-star service.”

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Yurtel (pronounced yur-tell) Veneta consists of three, fully-furnished 24-foot yurts, each with private bathrooms. The yurts are spaced a little over 10 feet apart and are individually themed—Yogi’s Den, Camelot, and Mystical Rose. (Check them out on their website.) And no, the name Yurtel wasn’t inspired by Dr. Seuss’ “Yertle the Turtle.”

“It’s not a hotel. It’s not a motel. It’s a yurtel,” Jim says.

Breakfast and a happy hour are served inside the building that housed the beauty salon (and a dentist’s office before that). While the structure didn’t fit the mold of a typical B&B—cozy kitchen and rented-out rooms inside a stately home—Patricia’s fondness for yurts provided the blueprint for a one-of-a-kind oasis in the heart of Veneta.

And their timing couldn’t have been better. The city of Veneta had recently created an economic development plan that involved ways to get more lodging options in the area.

“It’s not a hotel. It’s not a motel. It’s a yurtel.”

“We’re pretty much it around here,” Patricia says.

Once all the permits were in hand, the Haddocks headed to Pacific Yurts, a Cottage Grove-based manufacturer of modern yurts. The total cost of the yurts (with the Snow and Wind package for harsh winters) and contractors was paid for with the remaining funds from a SELCO home equity loan they’d taken out a few years prior as a second mortgage on another rental property. (They’ve since sold the rental to pay off their credit card debt and provide a little cushion.)

So far, business has been good. Guests have come from as far as Scotland and as near as Eugene. Their best month was July with 40 bookings, including a steady stream of visitors during the Oregon Country Fair. Most reservations happen through Airbnb, though it doesn’t hurt that they have a welcoming phone number (541-WELCOME).

Now that the growing pains of owning a B&B have subsided, Jim and Patricia expect a profitable summer in 2018. A friend from church gave them hope when he shared that traffic to his Veneta guest house significantly increased in the second year. Until the anticipated summer rush, Jim and Patricia will continue to whip up their well-received breakfasts and tinker with projects to improve the visitor experience.

“My philosophy is to spoil our guests,” Jim says. “I’m pulling out all the stops on this place.”