Joggers, cyclists find tiny stand a respite along Dequindre Cut
When a Grosse Pointe Farms couple found a small piece of land for sale along the Dequindre Cut in Detroit, they bought it and turned the opportunity into lemonade.
Beatrice Wolnerman and her husband, Eli, have been selling Bea’s Squeeze lemonade from a stand they built along the Dequindre Cut for about a month.
The couple bought the 0.015-acre land at 1861 Gratiot in April for $5,000. Then they thought about what they’d do with it.
“What would anyone do with this tiny little piece of land?” Wolnerman said. “We were kind of joking around: Oh, a lemonade stand would be fun. Actually, that would be really good.”
The couple began lemonade in 12-ounce glass bottles they branded for themselves with the Bea’s Squeeze logo.
The Wolnermans are no strangers to business. They launched gifting business Open Me When in 2017 and are developing a space in Eastern Market to house a retail, workshop and co-working space by the end of the year.
“We are enjoying the lemonade business too,” Wolnerman said. “It’s a fun way to get our name out there.”
The parcel is about 650 square feet. There are nearly two thousand parcels of land in the city of Detroit between 0.01 and 0.03 acres, said Erica Raliegh, executive director of Data Driven Detroit.
Wolnerman said the other parcels around hers on the Dequindre Cut are tied to meat packing businesses.
The couple made the sloping land usable by building a stand made of cedar plank and installing a pulley system to deliver beverages to those who can’t reach it from the path below. It’s popular with kids, Wolnerman said.
“The pulley system swings over our stand and we put the drinks in, push it back out and then just lower it down for kids at their eye level,” she said. “That makes them feel really special and they’re excited to receive their lemonade.”
The Bea’s Squeeze stand will be open through the summer, Wolnerman said. They also sell water and an orange-cream flavored drink. The cost is $3 for the lemonade or orange cream and $2 for water.
Katie Cook, head trainer for Off Leash K9 Training Detroit, said she learned that a lemonade stand was opening along the Dequindre Cut and a couple of weeks later, her group stopped to check it out.
“It was a fantastic idea,” Cook said. “We all drank it and loved it.”
Wolnerman said she sees the lemonade business as an opportunity to promote the upcoming co-working space at 1533 Winder in Eastern Market.
The 4,000-square-foot building, which the couple had hoped to renovate, had to be demolished due structural issues, Wolnerman said. The new plans call for a second story.
“It will look pretty much exactly the same, just with the second story added on,” she said. “We’re even saving as many bricks and materials from the building as we can.”