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Lemonade Stands: Rule Breakers or Kid Makers? Ask Pete

Posted by on in Early Childhood
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As summer draws to a close and back-to-school bells ring, families enjoy the tail end of summer bliss. Popsicle sticks and lemonade stands. Kids everywhere making lemonade, at least I think so. 

 When I think of my childhood summers, such vivid memories of long days playing with neighbor kids, trips to Lake Michigan with my family, going fishing and planting pansies with my Dad. My Mom, Reading. Old movies. Scrabble and Crossword puzzles.

In order to get money for cherry cokes down at the corner and maybe save for new shoe skates, or even go horseback riding, we had a lot of lemonade stands. It was no big deal. It was a rite of passage, a part of summer like eating watermelon, chomping on sweet corn on the cob, picking berries. Long days reading books and going to the library. Taking the bus downtown, by ourselves.

Lemonade stands were most fun of all. We earned our own money and that was a very big deal.

All my friends had lemonade stands. Everybody did it. All summer long, sometimes in the fall and spring, too. We always talked about hot chocolate stands in the winter, but never did it. We had our stands set up on the lawn or drive. Our parents' were home. A lot of learning and bonding went on.

Before long, babysitting took over my financial life, layaways at Lerners. What a cool thing to finally pay off the clothes and take them home. But that lemonade stand came first, showed us how to do it. Make money, have fun, help others, share and gain confidence. Big gains, even if little or no profit, really.

Recently 'Education Week' had an article about lemonade stands and entrepreneurship. Seems like it all fits together, doesn't it? Our seven year old had a lemonade stand a couple weeks ago. Turned out to be a not great weekend, extremely hot and County Fair weekend, but Peanut still netted about $20.00. She even split $6.00 with her morning shift lemonade partner. I think about $20.00 total went into her piggy bank. But not sure since Daddy paid for product and cups. I got three free glasses. 

My point is, we are not talking about big business here. Far from it. But I have no idea how much the average home driveway, lawn or corner lemonade stand brings in, but I bet not much. Probably just using a big box or table, chair, couple signs but maybe an elaborate dramatic play pre-made stand, there goes the profit even further. What profit?

Peanut learned about health and safety, promoting her lemonade project, making change and sales. "Get your cold lemonade here!" She said the sales was her favorite part. I also observed her sharing and having fun making signs with her friend for a couple hours in the morning. She gave her $3.00, as I said, but that was pretty much all her profit to that point. Pricing, perfect. One cup, $1.00, two cups, $2.00. Can't beat that for competitive pricing.

Ok, we need you Pete. Please put on your magic sunglasses and help us make sense of this issue. It's maybe a matter of perspective. You surely know how to turn things around to a better way of thinking and acting. And some really crazy stuff, at least to me, has been happening to kids with their lemonade stands. Permits? Health and Safety Codes? Legal? Illegal? Tax? Oh boy.

I never thought I'd be writing about kids and lemonade stands. Not in a million years, so to speak. But here we are. This is quite a non-issue issue for everybody to think about. Maybe you already have an opinion, one way or another. Did you ever have a lemonade stand? Or your children?

A couple weeks ago on Twitter I read an interesting article forwarded by a Mama interested in what's happening to childrens' lemonade stands, meaning being shut down. It happened to her kids. There is even a petition allowing lemonade stands, circulating around the country which shows it's not just a local question anymore. Permits, fees, health inspections, too much to contemplate. 

Harsh lessons in overzealous regulations have shut down lemonade stands in Colorado, Oregon, and other states, with laws being proposed to exempt child businesses of temporary nature such as lemonade stands. Imagine having to seek out and obtain food service establishment permits, health permits, business permits, legal permits and vending licenses, etc. just to re-live the simple childhood pleasure of the 50's, the lemonade stand.

Moreover, many kids and organizations hold lemonade stands to benefit children's charities such as children with cancer, immigrant groups, church and local projects, etc. Way more than just feeding a piggy bank, in a lot of instances.

So a neighbor calls and complains, that's enough to bring out the police, acting upon that complaint and voila! A non-issue of any real bones is now a legal one and a stand is shut down. Kaput. Fines. Or, knowing that these permits must be in hand, hundreds of dollars potentially could be charged for a stand netting little to nothing.

Assuming cookies are packaged and lemonade safely juiced and properly handled, I see no big deal about the time-tested lemonade stand. 

I don't think safety is the main concern. I think it's location. Personally I wonder if it's that kids have moved their tables or stands to art festivals, fairs or other more commercial spots, or environs which makes it look competitive. If a lot of money is being made, is it interfering with bigger businesses. But I really don't know.

Do people really believe lemonade buyers do it for the excellence of the drink? Does this supplant buyng a coke or a beer? I think not. Ridiculous. But unless kids today have permits and laws are changed to end this cacophony of harassment in the name of civic duty, I would think twice before planning and putting up a stand other than on lawn or drive. And definitely know local laws.

Not much time for spontaneity, needs a lot more thinking and planning. Maybe a good idea to review our state laws regarding the subject. Maybe a better idea to get involved, as the Colorado mama did, to effect change on behalf of her kids and other kids.

I always say chlldhood is a precious time. What's the rush? Summer offers a chance to enjoy being kids with our kids, reading grand stories such as 'Pete the Cat' books. I really wish Pete would put his magic sunglasses back on and give this non-issue a little or lot of perspective and help us figure this out.

For Pete's sake, let kids be kids! How about a glass of lemonade right now? Yum!

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita 


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Modeling the art and craft of teaching reading for 47 years, Mrs. Wirtz taught language arts, speech and reading at all levels preschool-adult, including penal. She served as Pre-school and K-6 Principal. Rita was also a Curriculum Consultant, ESEA, Title I Program Evaluator and literacy trainer. At the university level she taught school administration in the Bilingual Cohort at CSUS and National University, Sacto. Mrs. Wirtz also taught all reading courses for Chapman University for many years in Sacramento and Placerville, Ca., and mentored student teachers. On the national level she was a well known motivational Keynote Speaker and Seminar Leader. Most importantly, Rita walked the talk, teaching with teachers in more than 500 K-12 and special needs classrooms. Rita authored books, publications, and Pre- YouTube, videos were filmed by San Diego County Office of Education. Calif. ASCD authored companion book guides, and Calif. school districts correlated her basic skills instruction with State Standards. Mrs. Wirtz' newest book is her memoir, Stories from a Teacher's Heart: Memoires of Love, Life, and Family. Rita is currently teaching in a multi-age, fully incuded preschool, ages 2-8. Find Mrs. Wirtz on Twitter @RitaWirtz, Facebook and on her website: www.ritawirtz.com.

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Guest Sunday, 21 July 2019