Alex Johnson, Owner of Ty Croeso Bed & Breakfast
Offering a relaxed, modern, country vibe in a homely and welcoming setting
People are going to look back one day and think: ‘I used to love those little independent shops’. One by one, they’re disappearing from the High Street. I ran mine successfully in Abergavenny for 15 years – selling everything from furniture and interiors to gifts, jewellery and cards.
Independent retail was our family tradition. Mum and dad were in furniture for 50 years; before that, my grandad had a fruit, veg and flower shop. When he was called up to serve in the Second World War, my grandma kept it going for him.
In 2009, I had our first daughter; her sister followed within 15 months. For the next year-and-a-half, I kept everything going – collecting money, doing the books and buying – but every penny was gone on wages, rent and rates. It wasn’t sustainable and I knew something had to change.
Mum told me that a local bed and breakfast, Ty Croeso, was up for sale. We went to view it on a whim and the first room we walked into was the guest lounge. Sitting down with a cup of coffee, it had that lovely ‘feel’, so we decided then and there to buy it. Our own house sold quickly and by December 2011, we had the keys!
We don’t always get the sun in Wales, but Ty Croeso has its fair share. Our four guest bedrooms are bright with high ceilings, plus there’s an amazing loft with mountain views. I love looking on Pinterest for décor ideas (I’ve still got the passion for interiors).
I’d love to have a family kitchen where I can chat to the girls and bake cakes, but it’s a small price to pay for the lifestyle we lead. I get to do the school run every day and when every guest is taken care of, there’s still time for film nights or long walks down by the canal.
One of our old Saturday girls from the shop is joining the team. She’s off to do her teacher training in 12 months’ time and plans to work for us as a stopgap. I’m glad I left the shop when I did, but part of it will always be with me.