Michelle Mayo has settled inot both business and home life in Port Fairy. Below is her story.
WHEN I went to school in Bendigo I used to catch the tram to school each day. Bendigo was a lovely place to grow up. We used to catch the tram to the local Catholic primary school. Bendigo had trams everywhere and now it just has a tourist tram through the city. I did my secondary schooling in Bendigo and did year 12 before studying to be a psych nurse. I then had a pretty ordinary car accident and so I stopped nursing. I then travelled overseas with a girlfriend to Europe and England where I worked in Kent in a little pub, which was great fun. We spent 18 months there and we met and travelled with some amazing people and we did a couple of Contiki tours which were brilliant. We went to America after that. I had family there and we went from the east coast to the west coast. We drove across part of the states with one of my cousins from Michigan to Texas and to Canada in between. It was a great experience. My favourite place while travelling was Italy and we went back last year, 25 years later, and it was a lot different. It changed probably because we were looking at it through different eyes older and wiser eyes.
NOT long after coming back from overseas to Bendigo I met my husband, Chris. My mother was into catering so we opened a little lunch bar which we had for a few years. Chris worked just a couple of doors down and I used to make his lunch and morning tea every day. I lost my best customer when I married him. We met each other, went out, got engaged, bought a block of land and got married all within six months. It was all pretty quick but I think we just knew that it was right. Everything moved along well and we have been together 23 years and have two daughters, Holly and Paige.
We got to know each other through him coming into the shop, but it was my mother who got things rolling. It was my birthday and my mother had a sign up saying "Michelle's Birthday" and he came in and wished me happy birthday. My mother had said if he comes in and you don't ask him out that she was going to ask him for me. So I just mentioned there was a group of us going out and would he like to come. He didn't actually come out that night but he rang me a week later and that is how it all began.
WITHIN 18 months of building our dream home in Bendigo Chris was offered the chance to open up and manage a new Reece's Plumbing store in Warrnambool, so we made the move. We lived in Warrnambool and brought the kids up there and they went to school there as well. We moved to Port Fairy four years ago, which has really helped. It has made us feel very much part of the community.
The great thing about Port Fairy is that sense of community and the fact that everything isn't a rush. There is a group of us that meets for coffee two or three mornings a week so it is a very social thing even with work. We have a beautiful home with a low-maintenance garden so we get to spend a lot of time enjoying life.
SEVEN years ago we opened If the Shoe Fits in Port Fairy. I wanted Chris to buy a pub but he didn't want to. The pub appealed because I had grown up around the hospitality industry and it was something I thought I would like to do. So he asked me to think of something else so I said, what about a shoe shop? I have always loved shoes so it is a bit of a dream job. I don't have a problem getting up and going to work every day. I had worked part-time in fashion for four or five years and I like to shop I think every woman knows something about the fashion industry. When we first opened it was really quiet, but it has really built up and we have a great clientele and I think because the town has grown into a shopping destination as well as a tourist destination it has made life really easy. There are no empty shops and we have formed a fashion group and everyone in town works well together. We could have expanded the shop over the years but I think it is nice to keep it the way it is. People really like the feel of the shop and that is one of the reasons they come back. I think we cover all the bases in Port Fairy, we have great places to shop and have a coffee and parking is easy.