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Little Rapids couple looking for a buyer for their greenhouse business

Photo by Mandy Keeping

Sean Dolter, left, and Kim Thistle are getting ready to retire and are looking for a buyer for The Greenhouse, their nursery and garden store, in Little Rapids.
Photo by Mandy Keeping Sean Dolter, left, and Kim Thistle are getting ready to retire and are looking for a buyer for The Greenhouse, their nursery and garden store, in Little Rapids. - Contributed

Kim Thistle grew up in the greenhouse business.

Her parents Sylvia and Don Thistle operated a greenhouse in Steady Brook, starting the year she was born.

Thistle worked with her parents and later studied horticulture at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. When she finished her studies, she returned to the family business.

In 2000, Thistle and Sean Dolter, her partner in life and in business, decided to buy her parent’s business and move it to Little Rapids as The Greenhouse.

It wasn’t a decision her parents, especially her mom totally encouraged. That was something Thistle would come to understand later.

“In the early years of starting a business you think ‘oh my God I don’t want my kids to work seven days a week and not get a vacation,’” she said.

Looking back now, she said “this isn’t so bad.”

When Thistle and Dolter first started The Greenhouse, the business was far from what it has become.

“When we started up here it was just trees,” she said.

They cleared the land and over the years developed the property. There’s now four greenhouses there, a shop, a tree and shrub area and a large vegetable garden.

For Thistle, it’s more than a job, it’s a lifestyle.

Despite it being hard work, she enjoys watching things grow, watching the business grow and interacting with customers.

Now, 19 years later, Thistle is about to turn 60 and her thoughts have turned to retirement.

While they don’t have firm plans for their future, she and Dolter are ready to wind down, and maybe spend some summer days at the beach, a luxury not afforded while running the business.

It’s unlikely though that the business will go to another generation of the family.

Her daughter, Jesse Robson, and son, Zachary Robson, both live away, and like her own mom, Thistle did everything to discourage them from going into the family business.

That means they are selling it.

But it’s not without some hesitation.

With no expectations of selling overnight, they started the process to find a buyer about a year ago.

“It might take four or five years to find the right buyer. I don’t want to sell it to somebody who’s going to flatten it and put a truck stop there,” she said.

The couple had been pretty low key with their plans, but a rumour that they are closing prompted them to go public.

Thistle said they were concerned what the rumour could mean for business and so they posted their intention to retire on The Greenhouse’s Facebook page.

The post has generated quite a bit of attention.

Thistle can’t believe it, but is enjoying “the beautiful comments” people are making.

It’s also generated a few serious inquires.

She finds it “scary” that the business could sell faster than they thought, but said it’s all about finding the right opportunity.

Thistle and Dolter are willing to make it a gradual transition to help any new owner get started.

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