Marianne Wilson Stein, a longtime farmers market merchant, is set to open downtown Vancouver’s only teahouse after winning a contest from the Vancouver’s Downtown Association on Friday.
This is the first year of the VDA’s Launchpad program, which gives a local prospective business owner a $40,000 grant to help open up a storefront in downtown Vancouver. Half of the grant is made up of in-kind services such as accounting, architectural renderings and web design.
Michael Walker, executive director for the VDA, said the tea shop will be at 109 W. Seventh St., just around the corner from Little Conejo, and he hopes it will open in spring 2021.
Wilson Stein was selected from more than 35 applicants by an independent panel of local residents, property owners and business owners, Walker said.
“She’s been running her business for quite some time,” Walker said. “Her transition from the farmers market to a brick and mortar I think is quite a success.”
The Launchpad program is one of Walker’s first big projects since joining the VDA in August 2019.
“COVID presented some hurdles, which created a little bit of uncertainty as far as: Does it really make sense to do a program like this?” Walker said. “As it was born, we decided that this program is more important than ever, and the whole process has been really amazing.”
The Dandelion Teahouse Apothecary will feature a tea bar, ample seating and a manufacturing studio where people can see the products being made. Wilson will offer her signature tea blends, bulk herbs, her plant based skincare products and goods from other local merchants.
“I chose the name Dandelion because I love the metaphor of picking a dandelion and making a wish,” Wilson Stein said. “You wish and I guess it does come true.”
Wilson Stein started making products more than 20 years ago and began creating her own tea blends about seven years ago. She has been a regular at Vancouver’s farmers market since 2008 and sells her products online. She said she makes all of her own products with some assistance from her two daughters Kat and Addy Stein.
“It can be hard to get paid to do what you love,” said Wilson Stein. “I hope to pass it on to my daughters when I eventually retire.”
Wilson Stein said being selected provides an opportunity to grow her current business into a larger operation. She said it’s important to provide an inclusive community space where people can gather with friends and family.
Wilson Stein said she looks forward to building relationships with other local businesses, such as Blackbird Alchemy, another farmers market business that will be providing baked goods at her shop. She hopes to host various community events at the teahouse like open mic nights, bridal showers and fundraisers for local nonprofits.
“I feel so fortunate that I got this opportunity,” Wilson Stein said. “I told the VDA I want to make them proud and provide a lovely community space.”