Simply Country Barn venue, floral business combine for a one-stop shop for weddings, events – Green Bay Press Gazette

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Carrie and Jim Tryba of Freedom own and run Simply Country Barn and Carrie's Simply Country Floral.

Jim and Carrie Tryba of Freedom have proven that instinct can be a trustworthy way of starting a business. Add a gift for business management and a little bit of luck and you have what has become several successful businesses.

The story goes back more than several decades and it is the tale of high school sweethearts who found their way back to each other, a fledging dairy farm, a case of Lyme’s disease, and the effects of a recession.

Carrie explained: “We were high school sweethearts, but had drifted apart. When we met again, we ended up back together and were married in 2008.”

At the time, Jim, who had grown up on the family farm, was milking cows for a living. But farming was changing as smaller farms were bought by larger dairies. In addition, a recession was afoot. He held on as long as he could, but by 2013, financial concerns necessitated that he sell his dairy cows. 

Upset at the loss of his cows, Jim wanted to sell his Junction City farm. But that was complicated by the fact that Carrie had started a business that operated in a building at the farm.

“I started the business after I had Lyme’s disease and lost my job in the health care field,” she said. “I was beginning to recover from the disease and starting to walk again when a friend told me she was getting out of the floral business. I went and looked at her stuff, bought a bunch of it, and said I wanted to try it.”

She had never been in business before but had worked for enough different businesses that she had confidence she could do it. Having been a hobby crafter, she took a few courses but was basically self-taught. Carrie’s Simply Country Floral was established, and it wasn’t long before it became a success.

In order to keep the business going and respect her husband’s feelings, Carrie was open to finding a new location for her business. A search for another location began and fate intervened.

As they toured property after property, nothing seemed right. They were just about to settle for a property that wasn’t what they had envisioned when they were driving in Freedom and saw a “For Sale” sign.

“When we looked closer, the sign was for a vehicle, not the farm,” Carrie said. “Jim went to knock on the door and ask if the farm was for sale. No one answered, but when we got home, I found a telephone number. Jim went in the bedroom to call the number and he wasn’t coming out and wasn’t coming out and then I heard him say, ‘We’ll see you on Tuesday.’”

The owner said they had been thinking of selling and had a sign ready to put out the next day. There were challenges along the way (like a tornado that damaged the property), but the farm was exactly what the couple had been looking for. 

“We didn’t find anything that compared to the beauty of this barn. When we saw the farm, we walked from one end to the other and then back again, and whispered to each other, ‘This barn is beautiful and would be perfect for barn dances and weddings.’ That got the wheels turning,” Carrie said. 

Simply Country Barn wedding and event venue in Freedom.

Research began even before closing on the purchase in 2013. Relying on their instinct and with input from others, the ideas flowed. As they checked out similar businesses, they discovered there were only 20 similar, unique venues in Wisconsin. 

Carrie said, “I thought, there isn’t a lot of competition. Let’s go for it!” (Note: today, there are more than 400 unique venues in Wisconsin.)

Simply Country Barn (www. became a reality in 2015 after extensive work. The main barn was completely renovated with a dining room, bar area, prep kitchen, chapel area, and reception space. An outdoor ceremony space was created, and the lower level of the barn became the Rustic Room Bar. Heating enables the spaces to be used year-round.

They also realized early on that they needed a liquor license; improvements included lines for a tap beer system. By making that part of their business model, they won’t be affected by a proposed Wisconsin law that would restrict the number of events that can be held at venues that don’t have a liquor license but want to serve alcohol.

The first venture, Carrie’s Simply Country Floral, continues to operate as part of the business adding to the description as a “one-stop shop for weddings and other events.” The list of services is long, and they say that it gets longer every year.

“I was already doing floral and décor so that was an easy addition,” Carrie said. “And then we just added what our couples wanted and kept adding to them — like game packages, a firepit, popcorn bars, late-night pizza, and a shuttle service.”

Carrie and Jim Tryba run Simply Country Barn in Freedom.

Every year has seen changes and improvements. They have created privacy landscaping, added special rooms for brides and grooms, installed decorative lighting, and purchased items like a linen press. 

They provide a list of caterers and wedding/ event planners to simplify the process. Depending on the package, they serve from 50 to 400 people. With the exception of the year of the pandemic, business has been excellent. Much of that can be attributed to the blending of their skills.

Carrie said, “Jim does all of the outdoor work along with parking during the events. He is that second person in meetings with clients, and he does the actual tours of the venue. I do the paperwork and work with each couple as they plan their wedding.”

She also files tax reports, makes spreadsheets, and completes the paperwork and administrative tasks. But there is one thing they have in common.

“Jim and I are very outgoing people,” she said. “And I do believe that you need to have a bubbly personality so you can make a go of this type of business.”

There are also the other requirements they have mastered along the way. They are careful to comply with zoning regulations and municipal and state laws. Their one major challenge has been finding employees (they have 12 part-time workers), but there is a strong, core group that has been with them long term. Like the owners, they enjoy working at the joy-filled events. 

It’s not surprising, given their own love story, that Jim and Carrie have a few favorite sayings that reflect that. One of those is also a quote that they hope the newlyweds will take to heart.   

“Grow old with me because the best is yet to be,’” she said.

Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and past district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.

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