20 Years of Travel Essentials
The Adventure Continues

by Nancy Bestor

If someone had told me when I graduated from college with a degree in Mass Communications, and an intention to take the San Francisco news world by storm, that I would spend a good portion of my life running a small retail store in Ashland, Oregon, I would have laughed out loud. And then I would have asked, “Where’s Ashland, Oregon?” Thank goodness I didn't get that job at the Modesto Bee, covering the school district beat. If I had, Bob and I may have never married, never moved to beautiful Ashland and never opened the doors of Travel Essentials way, way back in 1994. But here we are 20 years later, still happily married, with two beautiful daughters that are nearly grown, and a pretty awesome travel store, if I do say so myself.

We naively started our business with the simple idea of being a travel book and map store, and the intention to dabble in travel accessories like bags and purses and fun clocks with world maps on them. But we quickly realized that if we wanted to survive, we would need more merchandise—lots more merchandise. (Note the strategic placement of plants and chairs in the photo of Travel Essentials retail space during its first year of business.) So we expanded into luggage, electrical adaptors and converters, travel clothing, and many, many, many different types of travel accessories. Nowadays, customers from near and far regularly tell us we've got the best selection of travel “stuff” anywhere. That’s always nice to hear because we are continually on the look out for new and better products.

We are fortunate in many ways. One being that a travel store is quite a fun business to run. When just about anybody walks in our front door they are likely either in the midst of planning an exciting adventure or they are fondly reminded of past journeys. Everyone has great travel stories to share, and it's always a pleasure to hear where they have been and where they are going next. We've devised many of our own trip itineraries from tips received from our customers, who always provide us extra inspiration to travel to new and exotic locations.

It’s also great to be in a vibrant tourist town that people return to again and again. We see many of the same visitors every year. Whether they are in town to see Shakespeare plays, raft the Rogue or just get a healthy dose of our perfect summer weather, we appreciate that they continue to keep us on their Ashland to­ do list by stopping in to say hello and fill us in on their most recent travels. Lots of customers have become dear family friends who have enriched our lives in ways too numerous to count. And, of course, we've had the pleasure to hire and work with a number of great people, many who have passed through Travel Essentials on their way to their own successful professional careers, and most of whom we keep in contact with today.

Owning a retail business is not without it trials and tribulations.....the economic downturn in the fall of 2008 comes to mind. But we have managed to stick out the tough times, (at least so far!), and we take great pride in being one of a small but solid group of Ashland retail shops that have been in business for 20 years. We know travelers can get most (if not all) of what we offer elsewhere and so we’re grateful when they choose us as their travel gear supplier. We hope they do so because of the personal service and real world experience we strive to provide.

Bob's parents, Bob and Liz Bestor, introduced us to Ashland, and were the impetus for our moving here and, in the beginning, our business partners. They helped us get started and we are immensely grateful to them for getting us out of the Bay Area and to a town that is both a lovely place to live and raise children, and a great location to own a business.

Last but not least, a humble and heartfelt thank you to you, our customers, for supporting us over the past 20 years. Here’s to 20 more!

—Nancy & Bob Bestor co-own Travel Essentials, through thick and thin, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, through richer and poorer. Truth be told, they think they have a couple of the best jobs in the world.