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Businesswoman’s baby is bed and bike inn PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 October 2017 15:53

Owner of waste firm, ZuZu Pedals adds bed and breakfast geared toward bicyclists to her portfolio

    Tammy Thompson-Oreskovic likens her businesses to children.
    Arnold’s Environmental Services, a Town of Saukville firm she and her husband Pat own, is her 25-year-old, she said — a mature business that she called “a well-run machine at this point.”
    Her child is ZuZu Pedals, the Port Washington bike shop she started six years ago.
    “It still needs a lot of attention,” she said.
    But her baby is the Bailey House Bed and Bike Inn at 425 W. Grand Ave. in Port, a renovated single-family house that opened Sept. 1 as a four-room bed-and-breakfast inn that caters to bicyclists but is open to all customers.
    The businesses may seem to have little in common but for this multifaceted woman’s leadership and her basic philosophy — be open to opportunities that present themselves.
    “I always try to be open to opportunities,” Thompson-Oreskovic said. “I feel that if you’re open to experiences, they’ll come to you. It’s something that’s served me well.”
    That’s apparent in her career journey, which started in art school, where Thompson-Oreskovic envisioned a career in graphic design or perhaps photography.
    Her husband always wanted to own his own business, and when the opportunity came up in 1992, they purchased Arnold’s, a septic and holding tank company that had been around since 1978.
    Thompson-Oreskovic put her skills to work, branding the business, changing the image and selling people on the services they provided, she said.
    That included expanding the business to include the rental of portable restroom facilities, she said. That business has grown significantly, she added, noting it started with 15 portable restrooms and today the firm has more than 2,000.
    “We had our best year ever,” Thompson-Oreskovic said, crediting much of that to her capable staff.
    The company supplies restrooms for construction sites — including the new Milwaukee Buck’s arena — movie sets, festivals and special events. Its clients include Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and Milwaukee Brewers.
    Arnold’s is now two companies — Arnold’s Sanitation, which handles the septic and holding tank work, and Arnold’s Environmental, which rents portable restrooms.
    “It’s a career I didn’t ever think I’d be doing,” she said. “But I really enjoy it. I still get to do what I wanted to do, but in a different way than I envisioned.”
    Then Thompson-Oreskovic, an avid runner and bicyclist, discovered the Ozaukee Interurban Trail. She traveled into Port, but twice found herself with a flat tire while in the city.
    “Both times, I thought, ‘Why isn’t there a bike shop where I could get a tube?’” she said.
    “I thought Port was an idyllic community.”
    She talked to merchants and surveyed the area, then decided to open a bike-rental shop that would also have basic bike supplies.
    She named the shop ZuZu Pedals, drawing on the pivotal role that a little girl named Zuzu’s petals played in Thompson-Oreskovic’s favorite movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
    The shop, initially located at the corner of Washington and Franklin streets in downtown Port, hadn’t been in business long before Thompson-Oreskovic noticed a trend.
    “The first thing people would say was, ‘Do you sell bikes?’” she said, and the second was, “Do you repair bikes?”
    The shop did neither, so that first winter Thompson-Oreskovic changed her business plan to add those services.
    She also added spinning and yoga, which she took up after injuring her Achille’s tendon.
    “It was one of the only things that helped me,” Thompson-Oreskovic said. “And I loved it.”
    Yoga, she said, began as a way to bring people in over the winter but has become an essential part of the shop’s offerings.
    ZuZu Pedals later moved to the Boerner Mercantile Building in downtown Port, which Thompson-Oreskovic calls “the best thing we ever did.”
    The increased exposure and space has allowed the business to flourish, she said.
    A number of bicyclists who stopped in to inquire where to stay led Thompson-Oreskovic to consider opening a bed-and-breakfast inn.
    “It was one of those ‘We should do this someday’ kind of things,” she said. “Bike-pack and bike travel have become very popular.”
    But then, driving to the shop one day, she saw a “For Sale” sign in the yard at 425 W. Grand Ave. Thompson-Oreskovic set up an appointment and, while touring the house, was pleasantly surprised to discover the previous owner had apparently been converting the home to an inn.
    “It was almost too good to be true,” she said, noting the house is set on a large lot just off the bike trail. “It just needed updating.”
    Thompson-Oreskovic bought the house on June 29 and with her family undertook those updates, removing wallpaper and painting the house in spa-like shades of neutral colors.
    The house, which she and her daughter Gabby Oreskovic manage, is now an airy dwelling filled with natural light. Simple, period furniture, much of it from Thompson-Oreskovic’s own collection, decorate the home.
    Bicycles play a subtle role in the home, on pillows, shower curtains and other decor. There’s also a kid-sized bike atop the signpost in the front yard, waiting for the Bailey House sign to go up.
    The one thing you won’t find at the house is a television.
    “We just want to keep it very simple and relaxing,” Thompson-Oreskovic said. “This house fits into who we are. It’s like a step back in time, and in a world where everyone is racing around, I think we find we need this more and more.”
    The house is for rent by groups — Thompson-Oreskovic doesn’t rent out individual rooms — but it’s also available for events.
    The first of these events is a fundraiser on Oct. 14 for a friend fighting leukemia.
    “That’s the kind of thing we want to do moving forward,” she said. “Civic events, community events, music events and bike rides that end here. Maybe yoga retreats.”
    When considering names for the inn, Thompson-Oreskovic went back to “It’s a Wonderful Life” and its central family, the Baileys.
    “It just fits,” she said.

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