Terra Nova House Bed & Breakfast

Published: 06-Nov-2014

Ryan and Molly Mercer

Terra Nova House Bed & Breakfast

322 W. Poplar Street
Grove City, PA

Mercer County


Year Founded:

Consultant's Name:
Maggie Horne

SBDC Assistance:
Business plan, financial projections and marketing

Additional Partners:

Gannon University SBDC Jeff Corcoran, Director
120 West 9th Street
Erie, PA 16501
Phone: 814-871-7232
Email: gusbdc@gannon.edu

Ryan and Molly Mercer planned on some day operating their own bed and breakfast since staying in one early in their marriage. Expecting to accomplish this after their children were grown, an opportunity to purchase a local B&B brought their dream to reality about 30 years earlier than expected. In late 2011, the Mercers purchased the Terra Nova House Bed and Breakfast in Grove City, Pennsylvania and took over operations in early 2012. Terra Nova has been in operation since 1997 and has been awarded a number of awards including Top 10 Bed & Breakfast in America 2007-2008, Top 12 Inns Worldwide 2008-2009, Innkeepers of the Year 2009-2010, and Best of the Mid-Atlantic 2010-2011.

For over ten years, the Mercers worked in the corporate setting and were very fortunate in their careers. Although the couple was in a good financial position, they were having difficulty getting financed through traditional banks. Their B&B consultant recommended contacting The Progress Fund for funding. In turn, The Progress Fund referred the Mercers to the SBDC for assistance with the development of their business plan and financial projections.

After submitting their business plan and pro formas to The Progress Fund, the opportunity to make the transition from the corporate world to small business ownership began with the approval for funding for the acquisition of Terra Nova. With two small children, it was decided that Ryan would manage the B&B full-time and care for the children while Molly continues to work at her current job.

Although the business had been operating successfully for fifteen years, the Mercers wanted to expand the existing marketing strategies to include ways to attract a younger target market. They believed that there were many other couples in their age group that would enjoy the experience and this target market would be more open to the option since the Mercers are younger than the traditional B&B owners in the area. In addition, local marketing efforts were minimal historically and the Mercers immediately joined the Grove City Area Chamber and attended a number of local events. In May, the Mercers held a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Chamber. Additional local marketing efforts were concentrated on Grove City College and the Prime Outlets due to the high number of individuals who visit both entities. The Mercers also joined The Western Pennsylvania Bed & Breakfast Association.

Currently, Terra Nova offers four uniquely themed guest rooms with attached bathrooms, full breakfast, concierge service and a gift shop. The Mercers have made some minor changes to the operations and have plans to update the rooms and adding special events throughout the year.

Although Ryan and Molly didn’t expect to own a B&B until they retired, the Mercers have settled in to the routine and are enjoying their new role as innkeepers.