From farmers market to brick and mortar: Vancouver woman wins $40K grant to open a downtown tea house

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Marianne Wilson Stein won a $40,000 community-sponsored grant to help her open a downtown tea house apothecary. She is the first-ever grand prize winner of Vancouver’s Downtown Association’s shark-tank style competition, “Launchpad.”

“I feel like I worked so hard to get to this point in my life and it’s such a blessing,” Wilson Stein said. “It’s just so exciting for myself and my family because my two daughters are going to be working at the shop with me.”

Wilson Stein is the owner of Gifts From the Earth. She sells tea blends, herbs, and all-natural skincare products. For years, she has made and then sold her products at the local farmers market and online, but now she’ll soon be able to expand her company with its’ first brick and mortar.

She says she plans to open “The Dandelion Teahouse Apothecary” in a downtown vacant storefront, located on W. Seventh Street.

“The reason for the name ‘The Dandelion Teahouse Apothecary’ is— so a dandelion represents your wishes coming true.. and that’s kind of a metaphor for how the business has taken root in downtown Vancouver,” Wilson Stein said.

Wilson Stein won the Launchpad competition with her tea shop and apothecary businesses concept proposal.

“It was so much fun and don’t think people usually say that about writing business plans, but it was fun for me, ” Wilson Stein said. “That’s when I feel like I’m at my best… is when I can talk to people about my dreams about having my own shop.”

VDA’s executive director, Michael Walker says the new Launchpad program was created to help boost the downtown business district. He says Wilson Stein was selected out of 32 applicants by a panel of community members and entrepreneurs.

“It’s a community-run process that was made possible all by volunteers,” Walker said. “I think especially as of now with COVID-19 everyone’s facing such great adversity, so I think it’s especially important as of now working to promote the vibrancy of the downtown district.”

Walkers says Wilson Stein will receive 50 percent of the grant in cash and the other half in in-kind services, ranging from web design to architectural renderings.

“I’m excited for Marianne. I know she will be a vibrant point in our downtown district here in Vancouver,” Walker added.

Wilson Stein says her storefront will be a place for the community to come together and will feature: a makerspace, tea bar, indoor seating, and products from other local vendors.

 “I’d love to have it be a space where I can make the product and people can watch and see exactly what goes into natural skincare,” Wilson Stein added. “It’ll also really be about bringing other local businesses and local people together to have a really great outlet for their products, too.

Wilson Stein says she is currently in lease negotiations and plans to open”The Dandelion Teahouse Apothecary” in 2021.

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