The sour incidents commenced full-bore about seven years ago. Prior to that time, they had been resolved quietly for the most part. No attorneys, no fines, nobody telling somebody to go suck a lemon. But then, they began drawing the ire of city officials. Police were dispatched.
The incidents occurred on warm summer days with cloudless skies — the sort of days that deliver a pressing heat that leaves you dry and parched, the same kind of blue-sky days that make you glad to be alive, thankful to be an American and breathe free.
Oh sure, the incidents could have been avoided. The offenders could have stayed inside, sat on sofas, watched television, binged on salty snacks and turned their fingers orange.
But they didn’t.
They set up lemonade stands.
In Midway, Georgia, three little girls opened a lemonade stand to earn money to go to a water park. Police said they needed a business license, a peddler’s permit and a food permit. So long, girls. Bye-bye water park.
Four-year-old Abigail Krstinger of Coralville, Iowa, had her lemonade stand squeezed 30 minutes after it had opened. Busted.
Similar scenes played out in Overton, Texas; Batavia, New York; Dunedin, Florida; Troy, Illinois; Queens, New York; Reno, Nevada; Philadelphia; Miami Beach; St. Louis, Las Cruces, New Mexico and are still playing out today.
Some kids have been told they need permits ranging from $75 to $1500. Others have been told they need proof the lemonade was made in a commercial kitchen inspected by the health department.
Even the rich and famous have gotten into sticky situations. Jerry Seinfeld’s son’s lemonade stand was shut down in the Hamptons. He was raising money for charity.
There are marvelous lessons learned at a lemonade stand — how to organize and plan an event, how to hustle, how to greet customers, how to pitch a product, how to count change, how to figure profits against costs and how to keep ice from melting.
Lemonade stands aren’t usually big money makers, even when mom throws in the lemonade, plastic cups, ice and sign supplies at no cost. But they give kids their first taste of the American Dream. It’s their first experience linking work with financial reward.
It’s unthinkable that the red tape of bureaucracy can choke out young entrepreneurs’ first foray into business. The standard line is that shutting the stands down is for the public good.
Many of the lemonade stands are phoned in by cranky neighbors and sourpusses. In other cases, commercial vendors who feel threatened by kids selling lemonade for 25 cents a cup lodge complaints.
I guess they simply forgot what it’s like to be a kid, what it’s like to dream.
Now, Country Time Lemonade, in a genius marketing move, is offering Legal-Ade, support and financial reimbursement up to $300 to any child whose lemonade stand is threatened.
Today’s children and tomorrow’s entrepreneurs learn yet another lesson in business: When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. When your lemonade stand gets busted, make a call to Legal-Ade.
It’s the new American way.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.