River Kelly and Zayda Elbuytari have known each other since kindergarten and later graduated from the same high school and college. The couple’s most recent adventure in the past few months has been taking over as managers of Echter’s Greenhouse in Sibley.
“This is mom’s business and we were both looking for jobs and it kind of just clicked,” said Kelly, 23. “We both have kind of fallen in love with the customers and everything that we deal with here on a daily basis, whether it be the greenhouse or flower orders or really anything that gets thrown at us.”
His mother, Marcy Troendle, bought the Sibley greenhouse from the Echter family in 2017 and has run a shop in Lake Park since 2010, which Kelly and Elbuytari also manage. The latter location has a small greenhouse as well as a floral shop.
“I’ve just been a part of a greenhouse basically all my life. If we weren’t running one, we were always going to one,” Kelly said.
He and Elbuytari, also 23, graduated from Harris-Lake Park High School in 2016 and then attended Midland University in Fremont, NE. The duo finished college in spring 2020, Kelly with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and management and Elbuytari with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a concentration in environmental science.
Work at the Sibley greenhouse varies day to day depending on how many orders the shop gets and what customers need. “We can do about whatever a customer asks us to,” Kelly said. “There was one funeral midsummer where he was a Coca-Cola driver, so they brought in an old flat of Coke glasses, and we put carnations in every single Coke glass. It was pretty cool.”
While Kelly handles the bookkeeping side of the business, Elbuytari is the greenhouse’s full-time floral designer.
“That’s taking up a lot of my time,” Elbuytari said. “But other than that, I’m also learning the ropes in the greenhouse a little more. When I first started here, it was about this time last year.”
Besides doing specialty floral arrangements, Echter’s Greenhouse keeps a stock of premade arrangements that are kept in coolers for customers wishing to browse. The shop also sells flower seeds, vegetable plants, herbs and has a range of gift and decor items available.
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