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Owner Unloads Maine Inn For An Essay, Postage And $125


The Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant in Maine is looking for a new owner. It won't go to the highest bidder. If you want it, you have to be able to write for it.


The Inn is the grand prize in an essay contest. Janice Sage, the Inn's current owner says the contest is pretty basic. Prospective owners are asked to send in a $125 entry fee and...

JANICE SAGE: ...A 200-word essay. It has to be formally done and grammatically correct, and they need to convey that they can run the Inn.

BLOCK: Sage will read all the entries herself and choose 20 of her favorites. After that, two anonymous judges will make the final selection.

CORNISH: Now, this story might sound vaguely familiar. It did to me, and that's because NPR did this story 22 years ago. That was after Janice Sage entered and won a similar essay contest. Here she is talking with NPR's Andrea de Leon on Morning Edition.


SAGE: I didn't think we were going to win. I was never really a lucky person. And when I was a kid, I used to write away. They had a contest, you know? Write away why you want to win a pony. Well, I must've written a thousand letters, and I never won the pony.

BLOCK: But back in 1993, all she had to do was write one letter.

CORNISH: And she got much more than a pony. Her grand prize? What else? The Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant.

SAGE: When I find out I won - oh, I screamed (laughter) literally.


THE ISLEY BROTHERS: (Singing) You know you make me want to shout, kick my heels up and shout, throw my hands up and shout, throw my head back and shout.

CORNISH: She moved from Maryland to Maine and went from being the manager of a restaurant to the owner of an inn.

SAGE: I opened up, and away I went. And I haven't looked back since.

CORNISH: Janice Sage says that writing contest in 1993 gave her an opportunity she might never have had, and now she's going to pay it forward.

BLOCK: Once her inn is in good hands, Sage wants to retire. So if you think you have what it takes, sharpen those pencils...

CORNISH: ...Or fire up those laptops...

BLOCK: ...And get writing. You never know what could happen. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.