Greenhouse growing pains


Severe spring flooding, road construction, and now a pandemic. It’s been tough couple of years for Cliff Avenue Greenhouse. Still, the business is open and working to bounce back. The Cliff Avenue Greenhouse didn’t just sprout from the ground overnight. It’s a family-owned labor of love that began nearly 50 years ago, when Dick and Jane Bills bought it. Eventually, their children took over after they learned a lot from mom and dad.

“How to grow. How to grow things, make things beautiful,” Heidi Teal, owner, said.

The business is a springtime staple for people who are ready to shake off winter, and sow the seeds of summer.

“We love it. We love everything about it. We love the buying, the selling,” Teal said.

Lately, though, the owners have had to pay the price due to a series of setbacks, beginning with last year’s flooding.

“These tables here are what we found and were able to replant and everything else is somewhere downstream or wherever the current might have taken it,” Heath Zeigler, owner, said in 2019.

The storms damaged the property and several plants inside the greenhouse.

“All we could do was sit there and watch the money go out the door, floating down the river,” Zeigler said.

For the last year, a major construction project on 26th Street and Southeastern has been going on right in front of the business. The site has made it challenging for customers to get in or even see the business is open. The owners have made it all work. Just when they were looking forward to a normal spring, COVID-19 set in, which has hurt businesses everywhere.

“We’re kind of afraid to wonder what’s coming up next,” Heath Zeigler said.

“We were really worried if we were even going to be open. So, that was our main concern here,” Teal said.

About a month ago, one of the owners made an impassioned statement at the Sioux Falls City Council meeting. City leaders were considering a shelter in place order, and Hayley Ziegler asked them to broaden the term “essential business” to include them.

“The investment of those plants would basically be gone and that would basically sink us, because this is what we do. This is our bread and butter. This is how we get through the year,” Hayley Zeigler said in April.

Fast forward to now. Teal says the business is doing well and seeing customers come in. As for COVID safety, she says they are asking customers to wear masks, stay six feet apart and follow other local and state guidelines.

“In a way, you know, with people having to stay home and they worry about all this stuff, they need something to do and gardening and working on their house is something they can do and that’s something I can offer,” Teal said.

It’s been tough owning a business this year.

Mallory: “What’s that saying about the rose and thorn? Do you think that is a good way to sum up owning a business at these times?”
Heidi: “Oh, yes. Absolutely. Everybody says it must be so wonderful. Sometimes it’d be wonderful working for somebody else and not having this on our shoulders.”

Whether it’s the Cliff Avenue Greenhouse, or the plants it sells, both show that standing up to unfavorable conditions is how you grow.

“I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I really do,” Teal said. “I wonder what my parents would say to all of this now.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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