SIX YEARS OF TEA ROOMS





BUSINESS CAREER OF A WOMAN COLLEGE GRADUATE



"For the last three years I have cleared $5,000 a year on my tea rooms,"

declared a young woman who six years ago was graduated with distinction

at one of the leading colleges of the country.



"I attained my twenty-third birthday a month after I received my

diploma. On that day I took stock of the capital with which I was to

step into the world and earn my own living. My stock taking showed

perfect health, my college education and $300, my share of my father's

estate after the expenses of my college course had been paid.



"In spite of the protests of many of my friends I decided to become a

business woman instead of entering one of the professions. I believed

that a well conducted tea room in a college town where there was nothing

of the kind would pay well, and I proceeded to open a place.



"After renting a suitable room I invested $100 in furnishings. Besides

having a paid announcement in the college and town papers I had a

thousand leaflets printed and distributed.



"Though I couldn't afford music I did have my rooms decorated profusely

with flowers on the afternoon of my opening. As it was early in the

autumn the flowers were inexpensive and made a brave show. My only

assistant was a young Irish woman whom I had engaged for one month as

waitress, with the understanding that if my venture succeeded I would

engage her permanently.



"We paid expenses that first afternoon, and by the end of the week the

business had increased to such an extent that I might have engaged a

second waitress had not so many of my friends persisted in shaking their

heads and saying the novelty would soon wear off. During the second week

my little Irish girl and I had so much to do that on several occasions

our college boy patrons felt themselves constrained to offer their

services as waiters, while more than one of the young professors after a

long wait left the room with the remark that they would go elsewhere.



"Of course it was well enough to laugh as we all knew there was no

'elsewhere,' but when I recalled how ready people are to crowd into a

field that has proved successful, I determined no longer to heed the

shaking heads of my friends. The third week found me not only with a

second assistant but with a card posted in a conspicuous place

announcing that at the beginning of the next week I would enlarge my

quarters in such a way as to accommodate more than twice as many guests.



"Having proved to my own satisfaction that my venture was and would be

successful, I didn't hesitate to go into debt to the extent of $150.

This was not only to repair and freshen up the new room but also to

equip it with more expensive furnishing than I had felt myself justified

in buying for the first.



"Knowing how every little thing that happens is talked about in a

college town, I was sure the difference in the furnishings of the rooms

would prove a good advertisement. I counted on it to draw custom, but

not just in the way it did.



"Before I realized just what was happening I was receiving letters from

college boys who, after proclaiming themselves among my very first

customers, demanded to know why they were discriminated against. I had

noticed that everybody appeared to prefer the new room and that on

several occasions when persons telephoning for reservations had been

unable to get the promise of a table in there, they had said they would

wait and come at another time. What I had not noticed was that only men

coming alone or with other men, and girls coming with other girls, would

accept seats in the first room.



"I learned from the letters of 'my very first patrons' that no gentleman

would take a girl to have tea in a second class tea room. They were not

only hitting at the cheaper furnishings of my first room but also at the

waiter whom I had employed, because I felt the need of a man's help in

doing heavy work. The girl in her fresh apron and cap was more

attractive than the man, and because he happened to serve in the first

room he also was second class.



"No, I couldn't afford to buy new furniture for that room, so I did the

only thing I could think of. I mixed the furniture in such a way as to

make the two rooms look practically alike. I hired another girl and

relegated the man to the kitchen except in case of emergency.



"Although my custom fell off in summer to a bare sprinkling of guests

afternoons and evenings and to almost no one at lunch, I kept the same

number of employees and had them put up preserves, jams, syrups, and

pickles for use the coming season. I knew it would not only be an

economical plan but also a great drawing card, especially with certain

of the professors, to be able to say that everything served was made on

the place and under my own supervision.



"My second winter proved so successful that I determined to buy a home

for my business so that I might have things exactly as I wished. I was

able to pay the first instalment, $2,500, on the purchase price and

still have enough in bank to make alterations and buy the necessary

furnishings.



"The move was made during the summer, and when I opened up in the autumn

I had such crowds afternoons and evenings that I had to put extra tables

in the halls until I could get a room on the second floor ready. At

present I have two entire floors and often have so many waiting that it

is next to impossible to pass through the entrance hall.



"Three summers ago I opened a second tea room at a seashore resort on

the New England coast. I heard of the place through a classmate whose

family owned a cottage down there. She described it as deadly dull,

because there was nothing to do but bathe and boat unless you were the

happy possessor of an automobile or a horse.



"I was so much interested in her description of the place that I went

down one warm day in April and looked things over. I found a stretch of

about three miles of beach lined with well appearing and handsome

cottages and not a single place of amusement. The village behind the

beach is a lovely old place, with twenty or more handsome old homes

surrounded by grand trees. There are two or three small stores, a post

office, two liveries and the railroad station half a mile away.



"Before I left that afternoon I had paid the first month's rent on the

best of the only two cottages to be rented on the beach. Of course it

needed considerable fixing up and that had to be done at my own expense,

but as I was getting it at a rental of $200 for the season I was not

worried at the outlay. The cottages told me enough of the character of

the people who summered on that beach to make me sure that I would get

good interest on all the money spent.



"Immediately after commencement I shut up my college tea rooms, leaving

only the kitchen and storeroom open and in charge of an experienced

woman with instructions to get more help when putting up preserves and

pickles made it necessary. Then I moved.



"The two first days on the beach my tea room didn't have a visitor.

People strolled by and stared at the sign, but nobody came in to try my

tea. The third day I had a call from my landlord, who informed me that

he had been misled into letting me have his cottage, and offering to

return the amount paid for the first month's rent, he very politely

requested me to move out.



"After considerable talking I discovered that the cottagers didn't like

the way my waitresses dressed. They were too stylish and my rooms

appeared from the outside to be so brilliantly lighted that they thought

I intended to sell liquor.



"I didn't accept the offered rent, neither did I agree to move out, but

I did assure my landlord that I would go the very day anything really

objectionable happened on my premises. I told him of my success in the

college town and then invited him to bring his family the following

afternoon to try my tea.



"Well, they came, they saw, and I conquered. That evening all the tables

on my piazza were filled and there was a slight sprinkling indoors. A

few days later the classmate who had told me of the place came down for

the summer and my troubles were at an end.



"The secret of my success is hard work and catering to the taste of my

patrons. Had I opened either a cheap or a showy place in the college

town, I would not have gained the good will of the faculty or the

patronage of the best class of students. If my prices had been too high

or the refreshments served not up to the notch, the result would not

have been so satisfactory.



"Knowing one college town pretty well, I knew just about what was needed

in the student's life; that is, an attractive looking place, eminently

respectable, where you can take your best girl and get good things to

eat well served at a reasonable cost.



"The needs of the beach were pretty much the same. People can't stay in

the water all the time, neither can they spin around the country or go

to an unlighted village at night in their carriages and automobiles. My

tea room offers a recreation, without being a dissipation.



"Another point about which many people question me is the effect of my

being a business woman on my social standing. I haven't noticed any

slights. I receive many more invitations than it is possible for me to

accept. I go with the same set of girls that I did while I was in

college.



"Two of my classmates are lawyers, more than one is a doctor, and three

have gone on the stage. I know that my earnings are far more than any of

theirs, and I am sure they do not enjoy their business any more than I

do. If I had to begin again I would do exactly as I have done, with one

exception--I would lay out the whole of my $300 in furnishing that first

tea room instead of keeping $75 as a nest egg in bank."



* * * * *



(_Country Gentleman_)



Two illustrations:

1. Half-tone reproducing photograph of dressed chickens with

the caption, "There is this rule you must observe: Pick your

chickens clean."

2. Reproduction in type of shipping label.



BY PARCEL POST





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