Since 1953, the “Ugliest Mermaid on the West Coast” has welcomed visitors to the Mermaid Inn. On the outskirts of downtown Long Beach and a stone’s throw from the shore, the hotel is an ideal escape. And for those who find it too hard to leave, The Mermaid Inn offers long-term lodging to boot.

The RV park was added in the late 1960s, followed shortly by the mobile home park in the 70s.

And in 2017, owners Bill Derion and Karla Jenson became a part of the Mermaid Inn.

The couple had moved from Portland in search of new opportunities and found it in the hotel industry. They work hard to keep The Mermaid Inn’s charm alive and to make their guests feel at home.

We talked with Karla about her experience co-owning a hotel. Here’s what she shared with us:

Why did you choose to start a business in Pacific County?

There were a lot of opportunities.

My partner Bill and I moved from Portland, then bought the Mermaid Inn in 2017. We purchased it from Ray Gehrke, who had established it with his wife. They’d done a huge remodel, so all we had to do was change the bedding and upgrade the mattresses

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

I’m very pleased with our reviews, which are some of the highest on the peninsula. Even six years later we’re still holding strong; We’re known as “the cleanest, coziest hotel” in the area.

What made you choose your industry?

I’ve been in the hospitality industry my whole life: in airlines, coffee shops, construction, etc. But this is my first time working in the hotel business.

How do you view your role in the community?

I would say I’m a leader. I’m the Long Beach Merchant’s president, the co-chair of the Razor Clam Festival, and sit on the boards of four different nonprofits. I also ran for city council but lost by one vote. Just a reminder that every vote counts!

We’re always involved. In small towns, you have to get involved in order to meet people. I was raised in a small town so I knew that was an important part of becoming a successful business.

If you had a piece of advice to offer someone starting a business in Pacific County, what would it be?

Get connected with people. It’s easier to run a business as a village than by yourself.

Final Thoughts

For any aspiring business owner in Pacific County, here are a few key takeaways from Karla’s experience:

  • Take advantage of the opportunity in the area
  • Assume leadership, both in your business and in your community
  • Be proud of your good reviews. You earned them!
  • Get to know your community; establish a support system