The Barry’s

Getting The Keys

It was December 21, 2021. I’ll never forget that day or the day we mailed the earnest money check. Both days marked a moment in our history where we took a chance on something bigger, something ours.

On that day, “The Dream” was becoming a reality right before our eyes. I will admit, I fully expected someone to laugh in my face 90% of the time while we were going through the process. Even with the business plan, I had spent hours refining, critiquing and asking others for suggestions. I finally decided to send it to the SBA right as we left for camping, fifty miles from service. Heart pumping, I clicked send at the Hailey Albertson’s parking lot. I closed my lap top and drove into the mountains where no one could reach me.

Turns out the business plan as well as owning a hotel was the perfect fit for us. I feel like our lives built to this place. There were a number of ups and downs, but even the bad was feathered with lessons and followed by gratitude. We had to journey through them all to be ready for this new chapter.

Our Story

Jim and Melissa were born and raised in Southern Idaho. Jim’s parents moved here when they were kids and Melissa’s (me) family moved here at very different times. My father’s side of the family homesteaded in the Rock Creek area, which crazily enough, makes our kids the 8th generation to call Idaho home. My family’s house was ordered from a Sear’s catalog and brought over on covered wagons. We even have an old pioneer graveyard behind the house in which I was raised. Our family history is full of grit and stories of water battles, growth, and neighbor feuds. My mom’s story was a little shorter, but Idaho’s beauty has kept her here for over 40 years.

Both Jim and I came from business owning families, but we are quite different in our strengths and weaknesses. Our differences are comical at times, but they have definitely helped us grow. We’re a little adventurous and probably a bit misunderstood to those on the outside, but Jim and I just hope to create a little extra beauty in the world.

Back in the Day

The Barry family owned and operated Barry Equipment & Rental. They were a staple in Twin Falls for everything construction. Jim’s Grandpa opened their first store on Washington Ave in Twin Falls and his dad grew it to be one of the top heavy equipment dealers and the go to for rentals. Jim spent a large chunk of his childhood behind the counter and with tools at Barry Rental. It helped shape who he is and the tinkerer he has become.

The Larsen’s owned Idaho Mountain Water for several years, among other pursuits. Everything from farming to river island ownership. Melissa and siblings were charged with helping on all sorts of jobs. Our families were similar and yet, very different. A lot Jim’s childhood was spent at the store, but time for boating, fishing and camping was typically part of the equation. I had a more traditional Idaho upbringing. Kids were part of the business and there wasn’t room for much else. Except with athletic pursuits, they were encouraged and always important. Jim excelled at Halo C.E., he was (self described) the best in Idaho. He was and still is the yin to my yang.

Jim & I first met working at a rental store in Moscow. Not your typical rental store, but a costume rental store. It was super fun and always ridiculous. We started as friends, I ate the white popcorn and he ate the yellow, but grew closer over time. If you’re around Jim more than an hour, you’ll be sure to find out that he is as quick as a whip and hilarious, but shy at times. Luckily, his humor broke through over and over. Jim had more light hearted memories of Southern Idaho and I credit him to helping me see how amazing my hometown was the whole time. He helped reintroduce me to the places I had once died to get away from as fast as possible.

2008 & Texas

After college, Jim & I moved to Texas. The economy had tanked and I remember a professor advising us to pick up a Masters or an additional degree just to stay in college. Businesses were shutting their doors all over the state and no one was hiring. At the time, I had a great job at Schweitzer Engineering running their event center, but Jim was unable to find a position that fit his degree. We figured we would test our fate in a bigger state with more opportunities.

The Lone Star State was a long ways away, but the promise of growth was exciting. Jim hopped on at Point-of-Rental, a software company for equipment rental companies. It was an easy match and Jim thrived. I started as an event coordinator with a stunning wedding venue. I later found my stride at Cabela’s, rising to a regional position in marketing. On paper everything looked great, we had a beautiful apartment, great careers, the obligatory Barry Golden Retriever and very noisy cat. Finding out we were expecting our first little was a complete surprise. Obviously, God had great things planned, but this arrival knocked us off where we thought we were headed.

Moving Back

By the time we arrived, it was summer in Twin. I worked at a title company in Business Development and Jim went back to Barry Rental. We spent the summer hiking, boating, camping, fishing, kayaking and soaking up every part of being back in the PNW. That fall we purchased one of the smallest houses on the block, but it was an oasis with a backyard like a mini forest. The outdoors had continued to grow in its importance to me and I am still baffled I took it all for granted. It was an adorable home, but so small! It was perfect for Jim, Zach and me. For a while.

Two years later, our twin girls Alaura & Evelyn were born. I had finally found my dream career move at Southern Idaho Tourism. I got to be creative and help the region grow. We enjoyed top lodging numbers, innovating marketing, an Eclipse Tour, Shoshone Falls After Dark and Idaho’s first drone show. I also came to intimately know our communities and the people in them. I am proud of my time there and extremely proud of my successor that continues that mission today.

It was the dream career, but couldn’t scratch that itch. The dream was still out there.

Hagerman Valley Inn

Mark had mentioned he was putting the Inn on the market a few years prior to our official interest. We were in no place to fathom that kind of move, but I did wish we could. The sale never happened and after some time, he was ready to put it back on the market. We still weren’t ready, or so we thought. I reached out to see if they would be interested in letting us help them get it market ready. Mark was ready to sell. With the help of the SBA, we managed to get ready to buy. I didn’t always know the next step, but somehow the path just kept showing up.

The Process

It was a long process, but we had amazing mentors to help us through. There were several key times that I am so glad we had outside help guiding us along. A lot was my own self doubt getting in the way, but also knowledge from the business world. We had worked for months waiting on financials, appraisals, insurance, etc. Each time updating our lending options with the needed documents. The bank I preferred and trusted backed out of the deal at the 11th hour. The second bank was able to pull the info together much faster and that was the first banks response when I let them know. I was floored. If I hadn’t listened to our contacts I wouldn’t have followed through with the two other more business oriented banks and our dreams might not have made it off the runway. We are very grateful for all of the wisdom provided to us throughout the process.

Fast forward to December 21. Four days before Christmas and 10 before the end of the year. We knew NOTHING and it was CHRISTMAS with 3 young children and we had full time jobs. I was deliriously happy and also freaking out. My solution.. throw Jim at it. It all seems comical now, but back then we had just been given keys to 16 rooms, 5 staff members and an evening caretaker that lived at the hotel. This and the numerous guests we hosted during that time and three snow storms. We’d never used a reservation system, spoken with Expedia, cleaned a room or knew where the supplies to do so even were. Thankfully, the previous owners were a lifesaver and helped us a ton during that time.

Between the Eves

Somehow we survived the first couple of days and had a mostly amazing Christmas with our family. On the 27th we packed our bags and stayed for a few days at the hotel. We wanted to understand the property as intimately as possible. There were a lot of revelations during that time. We wanted to absorb the way things had been operated as much as possible. Mark and Phil had taken amazing care of the property and had the most kind hearted guests. We hoped to honor them all. Even with those intentions, we were new and we didn’t jive with everyone and everything. Change was inevitable.

Finding Our Stride

It took longer than I’d like to admit. I still don’t know if I can say we’ve fully found a stride, but we have longer periods of business as usual. One thing I’ve learned is the only thing you can predict is that it will be unpredictable. The biggest surprises have happened through human discovery. Not only from employees, but also a few interesting guests. We are doing our best to learn and be proactive. In an industry that is 92% customer service and 8% your room, its a tight walk adventure with a blind weatherman. There are a lot of opportunities to get something wrong, but when its sunshine and rainbows we all feel pretty damn good.

As first time business owners, we’ve made plenty of mistakes. We hit our third year predictions in our first, even when many didn’t think it was possible. We’ve cash flowed remodeling 14 of the now 17 rooms. We have an amazing housekeeping manager and wonderful staff. We just finished the apartment remodel and will be reworking that soon. And New digital and physical branding. We’ve not only grown as business entrepreneurs, but as husband and wife, and parents.

Just the Beginning

There’s so much to say, so we’ll keep writing. One thing is for certain, we have strengthened our faith and surrender to God’s will. We hope that we can be of service to all those that stay with us. We love our guests and cherish their stories of staying at the Inn. So many beautiful memories are made in Hagerman. It’s such an amazing town with wonderful people. We are incredibly honored to be a small part of those stories and hopefully amplify their journey!

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Hagerman Valley Inn