Dawn and Cassidy Gintz dreamed of making a new start in Vacationland. For years, the mother-daughter duo read books about how to operate a bed-and-breakfast and scoured the classified ads for just the right place to launch their next chapter. Then they found the Captain Nickels Inn in Searsport, an 1874 Italianate mansion on 3 acres kissing Penobscot Bay.
“This place just calls to you,” Dawn says. The retired medical dosimetrist, now 51, fell in love with the century-old pine floors, the yawning views of Islesboro, and the location, close to Belfast and Camden and within an hour’s drive of Acadia National Park.
But dreaming about running a B&B was one thing, and making it a reality was another — especially since it involved moving 1,500 miles and carrying out an exhaustive list of renovations to restore the historic property’s luster.
“It was stressful,” 22-year-old Cassidy recalls. “We were arranging this from far away. We’d never done this. We needed someone who could be behind us if we needed anything.”
The pair was bowled over by the number of people who did get behind them. Everyone from the postmaster to the building contractor to their banker seemed excited they were bringing new life into an old landmark. “Coming from a big city where people don’t know each other, it was a total culture shock to have all these people who wanted to help,” Dawn says. When they called Camden National Bank, vice president and commercial banking officer Jim Tribou spent nearly two hours talking to her about their plans before referring her to senior relationship banker Amy Pierce to set up their account, a business credit card, and automatic bill pay. The Gintzes liked having digital banking tools to manage their daily finances, but also knowing that Tribou and Pierce were still a phone call or a quick visit away if they needed personal assistance. The idea of having a trusted, responsive banker at their side was a new concept to Dawn and Cassidy. “I was accustomed to using just an app, dealing with some automated system or someone at a faraway call center,” Dawn says. Tribou and Pierce’s assistance went well beyond setting up accounts. They helped the Gintzes plug into local chambers of commerce and led them to everything from the nearest eatery to potential marketing opportunities, including local conferences like PopTech and the Camden Conference. When the Gintzes hosted a Murder Mystery Weekend, the bank helped promote the event to its networks.
As the Gintzes head into their second season at the Captain Nickels Inn, their bookings are up 700 percent over this time last year. They’ve hosted their first events in the ballroom and completed myriad upgrades, including renovating the bathrooms, restoring the facade of the grand house, and rebuilding the porch in its original tongue-and-groove style. They have a five-year plan for further renovations — but with the close-knit community they’ve discovered, they’re not daunted by the challenge.
“The relationships we’ve built here have been essential in helping us get this far,” Dawn says. “It was something we could have never known before moving to Maine, but it’s been such a pleasant surprise and part of what makes this place so special.”