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Cover Couple: March 2015

Sweet (Snowbird) Home Alabama

Although they have been traveling to the Alabama Gulf Coast for some 20 years, Leanna and Mel Trombley finally made the decision this season to become actual “Snowbirds.”
The Trombleys, both 63, hail from Harrisville, N.Y., located near Syracuse, N.Y. , where winters can be harsh. This year has been especially brutal so the couple opted to extend their stay through April at the urging of friends who told them “don’t come back home.”
The couple have two daughters and six grandchildren, including Katherine and Kevin Curran of Albany, N.Y., and Amy and Jason Bonesteel of Dawsonville, Ga.
The couple became small business owners after retiring (Mel in the paper industry and Leanna as a chiropractic assistant) and will reopen them in late spring.

Q. Can you tell us about your the businesses.

  • In 1995 we brought an old farm with 56 acres on a tourist route into the Adirondacks to open an antique shop called Antiques by the Lake so we moved 18 miles to Harrisville from Carthage.
  • In 1997 we were offered a beeswax candle business. We had been selling them in our store because they went well with antiques. We called the new business Bonaparte Candle Co. after Lake Bonaparte which is located close to us. After a year we added scented jar candles, votives, pillars, t-lights, tarts and candle accessories. The business grew and we started doing candle parties and selling wholesale to other stores around the country.
  • In 2009 we had the opportunity to open a wine & liquor store because the one near us was closing. We named this business Bonaparte Wine & Spirits and located it in an 1800’s barn located on our property.

Q. How did you discover the Alabama Gulf Coast and how many visits did you make before this year?
Part of the family had relocated here and we have been visiting here for 20 years.

Q. What led you to make the plunge into becoming actual Snowbirds this year?
We had been thinking of selling our property and businesses and retiring but decided that we love where we live and doing what we do. What we really didn’t like was the long winters. It was decided to take the business’s seasonal and spend the winters in Alabama.

Q. How did you find the Staybridge Suites and why did you choose to stay there?
We chose Staybridge Suites because we have two cats. Most rentals do not take pets especially cats. Leanna googled pet-friendly hotels and Staybridge came up. It looked like a nice place, close to the beach and everything else, we called for rates and here we are.

Q. Tell us a little about the atmosphere and activities there at the Staybridge Suites.
The management and staff are excellent and strive to make you feel like this is your home. They take great strides to maintain the cleanliness and maintenance of the property. They provide a daily breakfast every morning and a meet and greet dinner Monday through Thursday. We meet people every day and have become good friends with a lot of them. There are a lot of folks who winter here every year.

Q. How often do you keep in touch with folks at home?
We keep in touch with friends a couple of times a week at home giving them our condolences about the weather.

Q. When you worked on your budget did you figure in the cost of running the utilities at your home and business had you stayed there this winter into your overall budget?
In planning our budget we looked at using less fuel by keeping our heat at a minimum temperature suspend our cable,internet,phone,no trash service and less plowing of the driveway. Our light bill has been cut in half. Our vehicle gas costs less in Alabama. But most important we are actually warm, something you never are back home.

Q. What will keep you coming back to the Alabama coast?
We will keep coming back because we have family here, the dining, beaches, friendly people and being close to everything. We would recommend that everyone back home get away from the harsh winter and enjoy the southern hospitality.

Q. Would you recommend the Alabama coast to others?
Yes, Alabama has a beach 30 some miles of sugar white sand better known around here as paradise

Read the March 2015 Snowbirds Gulf Coast Magazine