FAIRMONT– Janzen’s Greenhouse has a new pair of owners preparing to open the business later this spring. Austin Philipp and Anna Mundahl purchased the greenhouse, located at 2401 Albion Ave. at Fairmont, to longtime owners, Jon and LaNette Janzen.
The greenhouse has been an integral part of the community since Jon’s parents, Harlan and Odette, bought it from the Timms in 1952 and opened it in the spring of 1953.
Jon explained that the way his parents ran the greenhouse back then was very different from how greenhouses are operated in the world today. At the time they opened it, there were also no big box stores in the area to compete with.
“My parents sold snapdragons. They would wrap them in newspapers and sell them to customers,” says Jon.
He pointed out that in the 1950s, many people also had vegetable gardens because that was how they supported their families.
Although Jon never planned to operate the greenhouse, he and his wife, LaNette, began operating it full time after his father passed away in 1990. They operated it as a seasonal greenhouse until in the spring of 2019 when they closed that to the public. They grew CBD hemp for a private investor for about a year, but closed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“That’s when we put it up for sale,” says Jon.
Although they have received a few offers over the past three years, Jon explained that there is a difference between someone who says they want to work in a greenhouse and someone who is able to operate a tight.
“A lot of people think working in a greenhouse is the best job in the world, and it is. It’s sunshine and vitamin D. You see life grow,” says Jon.
However, he said that in the years he and LaNette operated the greenhouse, they changed their business model every five to 10 years because they had to follow what was popular.
He and LaNette were fans of Austin and Anna’s business plan and felt the young couple had the ability to not only sustain the business, but also allow it to thrive.
“Anna comes with experience and Austin will have experience too. LaNette and I are very excited for them. We are delighted that a young couple is taking over. What is exciting is that it is a small family business that will continue to exist,” says Jon.
Austin is a 2016 graduate of Fairmont High School. He currently works for an automation company and is interested in market gardening. Originally from Buffalo, Anna went to South Dakota State University where she majored in agricultural education and minored in horticulture. She has spent the last three years working in a garden centre.
While Anna and Austin were living in South Dakota last summer, they walked past Janzen’s greenhouse and noticed the for sale sign.
“We started looking at it and wrote a business plan and it started to come together,” Anna said.
The two have since moved to Fairmont and after officially becoming the new owners of the greenhouse in late February, they have been busy getting it ready to open later this spring.
Anna explained why they intend to operate the greenhouse of the same name.
“Jon and LaNette have built such a broad relationship with people in this community and beyond. It’s such a household name.
Austin and Anna don’t plan to drop anything previously offered at Janzen, although they may add more items in the future. It will be open from spring to late summer with the possibility of short-term sales for fall and winter plants.
While Austin couldn’t see himself returning to Fairmont, let alone owning a greenhouse here, he is thrilled with the opportunity.
“I’m thrilled to have people here again and to be able to help provide that to the community and surrounding area,” Anna said.
Since working on reopening the business, Anna said they have had the opportunity to work with several local businesses, which they plan to continue to do in the future. They plan to open this spring with about three employees.
“We will have more employees if needed”, said Austin.
The young couple commented on the community support since news broke that the greenhouse will reopen.
“The clientele is deep. It’s not just Fairmont, but countywide, across the state line,” says Jon.
In order to update the public on the status of the greenhouse, Austin and Anna plan to use Janzen’s Greenhouse Facebook page and are also working on creating a website and other social media pages.
Overall, the Janzens are thrilled to see the greenhouse’s legacy continue. After all, 70 years ago this spring, Jon’s parents opened the greenhouse. He’s been a part of it for almost as long, and LaNette for 40 years. They both feel happy to put the greenhouse back in the hands and green thumbs of the new owners.
“I hope they have another 70 wonderful years here,” says Jon.