Retired at 35 — at least that’s how entrepreneur Andrea Pollock feels.
“I said to my Mom that I wanted to open a ‘B and B’ one day. I started thinking why do I have to be 60 or 70 and that’s going to be the last job I do. Why couldn’t I just do it now?”
Andrea is now the owner of Tall Trees Bed and Breakfast. When she welcomes guests sometimes she’s asked if her parents are home because they’re not expecting someone her age. Little do they know her parents live 4,800 kilometres away in Georgetown, Ontario, along with the rest of her family.
She may boast that she lives the life of a retired grandmother, but this apparent blonde mermaid-haired Bohemian harbours an ambitious edge.
Andrea studied commerce at the University of Guelph where she also received her MBA. This 5’1 female force spent much of her youth competitive wrestling. In 1998, she held the Canadian ladies wrestling title for her weight division and she won the Ontario University championships before a devastating injury ended her career in the sport.
“I was the leg attacker. I’m low. All the other girls were so tall and gangly. I was just so low to the ground,” Andrea says with a smile.
Wrestling taught her to emerge from her shell and believe in herself. “I came out here barely knowing anything about Prince Rupert other than just wanting to live my dream and I felt like it was a place that I could make it happen.”
She still stretches her competitive spirit from time to time whenever she golfs at the Prince Rupert Golf Club where she is a member. In 2011, her name was put on the club wall after winning the net competition in a prior tournament.
But before moving to the North Coast, Andrea was pursuing another dream as a travelling wine salesperson for a group of wineries in Ontario. She spent five years based in Ottawa until she began to dream about getting into real estate and owning a bed and breakfast. Andrea did research on a couple of spots in Canada where she might start her business.
“I came close to buying a 20-acre cranberry farm in Nova Scotia and I was going to be a cranberry farmer and open a small one or two room B and B.” She laughs at the thought of how different her life could have been. “It was like one or the other. That was how close I came to living a completely different adventure and version of my life.”
Her heart pulled her west instead. With her two dogs, Esko and Nala (nicknamed Pickle), she came to Prince Rupert and with “a vision and with outsider’s eyes” saw the potential opportunities the city could offer.
She bought a 1920s home, found a temporary job and saved up to renovate the space and add a suite as an extension where the shell of a garage used to be.
“I’m always working on it. I had to renovate room by room.” Andrea’s hard work eventually paid off. She created four guest rooms and added a few unique touches to the place. A chalk wall, currently demonstrating a Christmas themed light-bulb design, lightens up the common dining room. A stuffed 200-lb polar bear hangs from the ceiling and a metre-long whalebone rests beside the entrance. Pickle diligently waits for guests to arrive and she greets them with round eyes and a wagging tail.
“She’s a little hostess. She loves sitting right by the front door to greet pretty much everyone these days. I let her start doing it and now I can’t stop it. She’ll sit there all day.” Pickle bounces as Andrea speaks about her. The two have become even closer after Esko passed away a couple of months ago. The two dogs had been on all of Andrea’s adventures with her for the past 15 years. They lived with her in Edmonton, Nova Scotia, Ottawa, Georgetown and Fort Nelson.
Life in Prince Rupert keeps Andrea on her toes. This year she partnered with a friend to start a second B and B. She also started an ice cream venture called Island Sugar with a friend. She’s hoping to hire some high school students looking for a part-time gig to sell homemade ice-cream from her old-fashioned bike complete with a freezer and music.
“I had a little Dickie Dee that would come through the neighbourhood when we were little kids and it was just super fun and it made the afternoon extra special.”
She wants the kids in Prince Rupert to have the same experience so she had the bike designed and shipped from the U.S.
Andrea may say she’s retired but with all the projects that she keeps adding to her agenda, she’s one busy bee.
“If I didn’t give myself so many other things to do my day would be making breakfast and cleaning my house a little bit and then going golfing and then going back and sitting around with a bunch of people on vacation and drinking some wine outside at the fire pit. That’s really hard to call a job.”
At such a young age, Andrea is already living the dream right here in Rupert.