Bella Tyler-Land smiles at the lemonade stand she set up at her grandmother’s house in Otsego at the end of June. (Photo provided)

Allegan student’s Otsego lemonade stand inspires smiles, donations

By: 
Ryan Lewis, editor

Budding entrepreneur Bella Tyler-Land of Allegan was able to bring out some smiles in Otsego late last month as she opened a lemonade stand.

The 9-year-old Dawson Elementary student donated the first $40 she made to Sylvia’s Place, the domestic violence shelter where her mother, Donna Land, works.

“She bought the products to make the first batch of lemonade all on her own,” Land said, noting this has been something Bella has wanted to do for years but never undertaken before. “She just wanted to spread kindness.”

It turned out to be a fun project with her grandmother, with whom she was staying for a few days. Her grandmother helped her construct it at the sidewalk, with donated wood and paint from a family friend. It was open Wednesday through Friday, June 24-26.

“She took all of the precautions for COVID-19, wearing a mask, having hand sanitizer,” Land said.

They also cleared it with Otsego City Hall. City manager Aaron Mitchell said the city hardly wanted to stand in its way. “And I think most of our DPW staff was probably over there by the end of the day,” Mitchell said.

Land said many people bought cups of lemonade and tipped well as Bella talked about the importance of Sylvia’s Place.

“She said so many people thanked her, and she loved it when an Otsego police officer stopped by,” Land said. “He bought a cup and tipped and said it was ‘doctor’s orders that he had to stop by and get a lemonade.’ We don’t know his name but were able to get a thank-you note to him.”

Bella’s father Arryn bought a pitcher at the discount of $3 to take to work.

“She really felt like it was a success,” Land said. “She was pretty much in shock. She was telling us ‘I didn’t think they would leave these good of tips.’ They were complimenting her manners.

“I was at work and would get updates throughout the day.”

By the end of that Friday, she had $100. She had originally intended to buy a Fitbit—worn like a watch or a clip and helps count steps during physical activity—but Otsego resident Casey Richardson found that out and gave Bella hers as she had planned to replace it.

So, Bella decided to share her newfound riches.

“That Saturday, she took me and some friends to get ice cream, her treat,” she said. “She also bought me and grandma bouquets of flowers.

“She has been wanting a digital camera, so we’re looking into a kid-appropriate one for right now with the remaining money,” Land said.

After local TV news covered the newsstand in their broadcast, Land said Bella has enjoyed a bit of local stardom.

“It was a couple weeks later and we’re in Fennville, and a few people came up to her and were like, ‘Were you the girl in Otsego with the lemonade stand?’”

The whole experience may have inspired a family side business. Land said they intend to contact Allegan City Hall to look into the permitting to open a lemonade stand there.

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