RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - What does a former auto body worker and a failed tomato growing operation have in common?
An unlikely recipe for what is now, nearly 50 years later, an iconic family greenhouse business.
Just off Highway 44 on a street named Jolly Lane, there's a classic sign, representing not only a greenhouse, but a family, and the fulfillment of the American Dream.
Inside there's a literal flowering feast for the eyes of gardeners.
There's rows and rows of plants, in a place that has been decades in the making.
Dean and Norma Sime, both now 81 years old, and their 5 kids have been running this place for nearly half a century.
But Dean actually started in the auto body business.
"And I went home one day and told Norma, I said, 'I'm not gonna be doing this when I'm 60 years old. I don't care if I gotta sell pencils on the street corner but I don't want to be breathing paint and dust and this kinda stuff and laying under cars," says former Jolly Lane Greenhouse owner Dean Sime.
It was 1969, when the unplanned seed was planted. Dean's boss at the car shop bought some land in North Rapid City that included a green house. The couple decided to rent the place and grow tomatoes.
"And I'm allergic to tomato vines," says Jolly Lane former owner Norma Sime.
Since Dean was still at the auto shop, Norma was tasked with pollinating those plants.
"And the tomatoes got fungus on 'em and they'd be a beautiful group of tomatoes and they'd be all moldy on the bottom," Norma says.
Dean says financially it was a disaster. Undeterred, Dean came across another little old greenhouse business, and the owner wanted out.
The Simes rented it, ultimately bought it, and planted their roots here.
They kept the original name of Jolly Lane Greenhouse. It was 1971 and it looked nothing like it does now, but pictures in a scrapbook preserve memories.
"So we spent the first two years of Jolly Lane trying to pay off the loss of the tomato business," Norma says.
"We started from scratch. It was learning by mistakes. Some were not big, some were extremely costly," Dean explains.
"Actually in the early days of the business my Dad was still doing the auto body work on a daily basis because he needed an income, and with 5 kids and everything. So Mom worked at the business, actually, my Grandmother, my Dad's Mother helped out back in the early days," says Tim Sime, co-owner of the business.
"I've always told everybody it's like milking cows, these plants don't know whether it's Christmas, or Thanksgiving or Sunday. If they need water or they need care you've got to be here. Otherwise it's not gonna work, " Dean says.
This time, things took off and their business went into full bloom.
"And for years every year was better, and better, and better and better and we upgraded the greenhouse, upgraded the equipment," Dean remembers.
"It wouldn't be this large if the kids hadn't stayed in the business because Dean and I could never have done all this," Norma says.
Dean and Norma have stepped aside.
Jolly Lane is now owned by their 5 adult children. Nearly fifty years after the tomato disaster, this place is more than a greenhouse, it's a family business, and the fulfillment of the American Dream.
Just as the greenhouse has grown, so has their family tree.
Dean and Norma are now the proud grandparents of 6 kids, and great grandparents of 4.
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