Lemonade Collective

Gautam and Melissa in front of a colourful wall
Swimming pool

    Making Lemonade out of Lemons: Entrepreneur revitalizes an iconic Blue Mountains aquatic centre

    What’s the simplest business in the world? A lemonade stand. Mom mixes up some lemonade, you put out a table and cups, a homemade sign, and…voilà!

    A simple business is not what Melissa Goldmintz and Gautam Shah ended up with (or expected) when opening Lemonade Collective, but the lemonade analogy stands. “Making Lemonade is all about taking something sour and making it sweet. Our mission is to make life sweeter! A lemonade stand is about setting goals, and all the steps involved in hitting them. It’s also very inclusive and judgment-free– no matter your age, gender or ability, you’re welcome to enjoy a sweet refreshment. ”

    Ameliorating Adele’s Aquatics

    A landmark located on the border of Thornbury and Clarksburg, Adele’s Aquatics was a rarity: what very small town has a private indoor swimming facility open to the public? When Melissa and Gautam (G) bought Adele’s and transformed it into Lemonade Collective, Adele’s was offering only swimming lessons, though it had previously also provided yoga, gym services, even haircuts and more. 

    Melissa and G bought Adele’s in 2019, realizing a dream that Melissa had to run her own socially-oriented business in a community she loved: The Blue Mountains. Moving up from the GTA, the couple, put down roots in a community they had been visiting for years. 

    They got into some extensive renovations right away. By November of the same year, Lemonade Collective was born. “The building required a lot of love,” recalls Melissa. “It wasn’t all super straightforward and there were many lemons thrown our way throughout the process, but we knew what our community needed and decided to turn the lemons into lemonade! We put in a lot…and when we opened it was an immediate hit.” 

    It’s a hit! 

    Lemonade Collective is now a thrumming hive of activity offering gym, swimming, swim lessons, aqua therapy, squash, fitness classes, personal training, events and selling top retail brands such as lululemon and Speedo. 

    It’s a renaissance of sorts—Melissa loves it when a new member comes in and tells her about taking swimming lessons there as a child, or about the classes of yesteryear. With a fun, upbeat motto Squeeze The Day and colourful lemons just about everywhere, Lemonade Collective quickly became a community hub. “We have a great mixture of members here now,” says Melissa. “People who grew up in Thornbury/ Clarksburg, as well as lots of people from the city who have moved up here. The more different backgrounds, the sweeter and better we are.”

    Quite the community 

    Melissa quickly fell into the embrace of a thriving entrepreneurial community in The Blue Mountains. She found that many businesses are run by women, who tend to support each other. Even with other fitness facilities, she finds, people share each other’s posts and help each other with marketing.  

    “There’s a huge entrepreneur community up here,” notes Melissa. She points to The Foundry, a co-working space in Collingwood, as a place where entrepreneurs find each other, especially at their (pre-pandemic) Common Grounds (formerly Open Coffee) gatherings. “That’s a pillar of the entrepreneurial community,” she says.

    In the rosy days before the pandemic, Melissa and co. were ramping up events of their own. During the first couple of months after opening, there was a big demand for classes. Lemonade Collective had hit a chord; it was getting an extraordinary community response. In addition to popular classes, the business started offering social events like Coffee Talk. Every third Wednesday, Lemonade Collective paired up with Good Grief Coffee for speakers, coffee, questions, and a discussion period. With lemon water up front, and tea and coffee in the lounge, Melissa was just about ready to layer food and beverage onto Lemonade Collective’s offering. Sounds great, right? 

    Picking up new members through COVID

    It was. Then the pandemic hit. Things got interesting right away, remembers Melissa. She started up Friends that Walk, a free walking group that met every Wednesday for people to meet new people, see new areas of the community, get some exercise and relax with a lemon water on the back patio afterwards. She loaned out all her business’s gym equipment to members, as there wasn’t much that could be done inside and offered complimentary virtual classes.

    But then a funny thing happened. As the pandemic wore on, with every closure they would lose some members but with every reopening Lemonade Collective gained new loyal members. Members didn’t quit because of the pandemic—they had a new business that they really liked, and chose to support, including the retail end of things.

    Lucky lulu

    For some people, lululemon is more than a brand. It’s an institution. Melissa had written retail operations into her business plan for Lemonade Collective and lululemon had always been in her crosshairs. The issue, though, was that the Canadian icon wasn’t taking on more retailers. 

    “I submitted a proposal anyway,” smiles Melissa. “It was such a fit. A Canadian brand, really good with diversity, fitness and sports-forward…that’s us.” Getting approved as a lululemon retailer put Lemonade Collective on the map for many locals. “It allowed people to shop local for a favourite brand without the markup,” says Melissa. 

    It also allowed her business to operate in some capacity during COVID. Since then, Lemonade Collective has layered on Speedo and Dunlop, with more brands on the horizon. “We want to get the leading brands for the activities we offer,” explains Melissa. “So we’re taking it slow.”

    Giving back 

    If you hadn’t guessed it by now, Melissa and the entire Lemonade Collective team have big hearts. They have raised funds for Black Lives Matter, The Coldest Night of the Year and other worthy causes. They were donating a percentage of all lululemon sales every Thursday and 100% of proceeds from private space rentals for the causes. 

    “We pick a fundraising event or charity that is close to home. It’s community giveback,” says Melissa. “Anything we can do to help that’s within our ability we will continue to do. Because we want to make life sweeter! At the moment we are fundraising to send the Grade 7s & 8s to the Sheffield Black History & Cultural Museum and plan to support and send the Grade 7s every year thereafter.”

    You can find out more about Lemonade Collective at www.LemonadeCollective.ca