Jennifer Chapman, who owns Abe’s Country Village Motel Cabins and Gift Shop in Brandenburg, has had to learn to balance her compassionate nature with the sometimes stern attitude needed for business owners, and she’s seeing success in balancing the two.
In 1984, Jennifer’s husband’s grandfather built Abe’s Country Village. He owned and operated it along with his son until his passing in 2013. After staying closed for a year and a half, Jennifer’s husband was able to talk the family into letting he and his wife take over the business. Jennifer’s husband is a math teacher at Meade County High School, so Jennifer handles almost all of the business for Abe’s.
“I tease him and tell him he’s my maintenance man while I do everything else,” said Chapman.
Since taking over, they’ve remodeled all of the 14 motel rooms. They offer both nightly and weekly rates, and Chapman says they’ve had guests from all around the world. She says they provide something that a more traditional motel or hotel does not.
“If you want the country feel, you’re most likely not going to get that, even in the country, at a motel,” said Chapman.
When initially faced with the prospect of owning and operating Abe’s, Chapman was “terrified.”
“Looking at all the rooms and all the work that needed to get done was definitely a lot,” said Chapman. “After the family allowed us to take over, doors just started opening.”
The day after the family agreed to sign the contract, a man walked in the door and offered to rent all of the cabins for the entire hunting season.
“Everything has fallen into place for us.”
As a woman, Jennifer has had to overcome obstacles that men likely wouldn’t face. Some guests try to “sweet talk” their way out of paying full price — or even paying at all. Chapman said it was difficult not to cave at first because she wants to help as many people as she can.
“As a mom, a wife, and a Christian, we always want to help people,” said Chapman. “We’ve had to really learn what we’re willing to do and what we will tolerate.”
Though she’s had to stick to the policies on some occasions, that doesn’t mean Chapman hasn’t been able to help. She recalled a homeless couple staying with them that she could tell really wanted to better themselves.
“They stayed with us, and we were able to work with them on their rate,” said Chapman. “I watched them walk from here to McDonald’s every day to work. She said ‘we just have to save enough to get an apartment,’ so we worked with them on their room bill to make it where they could save more money, and they were able to get an apartment.”
Chapman says she’s been able to help many people that have walked through Abe’s doors.
The business also creates custom apparel, and that was a challenge for Chapman at first. However, she vowed that she would not say no to a request because she didn’t know how to do it.
“I was not going to be intimidated by a design or something that made me nervous,” said Chapman. “I have stayed with that, and when people want a design, I’m determined to get it done.”
Chapman says that she wants her children, especially her two girls, to see her compassion and hard work in action. She hopes that they will take those traits into their adult lives and careers.
“If my kids learn anything from us being here, I want them to learn how important it is to work hard,” said Chapman.