Young Entrepreneurs And Lemonade Stands

Spring Break is in full swing, and before you know it, the heat of summer will be upon us…beckoning us to barbecues, beaches, and thirst-quenching, ice-cold lemonade.  Ah, how lemonade explodes with a burst of sweet memories on my palate!

The street I grew up on back in the 60’s was not without the entrepreneurial spirit.  It was a spirit born of necessity…many of us baby boomers had parents who went through the depression, with a mindset fixed on saving, and very little thought of spending…ever!  In our family, any monetary gifts we received from Grandma and Grandpa or anyone else had to immediately be put into a savings account.  The only hope we had for any spending money at all at the local penny candy store was money we earned…cold, hard cash…“under the table” in today’s vernacular.  For those of you born in the mid-sixties and beyond, a penny candy store had a wondrous glass counter filled with bins of a multitude of candies you could actually buy for a penny…string licorice, candy corn, jelly beans, lollipops, Bazooka bubble gum, Mary Jane’s, Peppermint Patty’s, Atomic Fireballs, Bit O’ Honey’s, jaw breakers, Tootsie Rolls, wax bottles…ad infinitum into sugar heaven!

But alas, in the pre-allowance days of our baby-boomer childhood, we had to devise the means to obtaining these wondrous treats.  And on a hot summer day, what better way to make all those pennies than with a lemonade stand? 

So, on one such day, my older brothers set up a stand, made the lemonade, and we were in business.  Kids from the neighborhood gave us their nickels for glasses of that cold, sweet stuff.  My brothers were quite content with their little enterprise, and I was happy to witness it all as an eager assistant.

But then the spirit of competition kicked up in Mikey Warren, three houses down across the street.  He proceeded to put up his lemonade stand!  My brothers scoffed, “He doesn’t have a chance!”

And then the unspeakable happened.  His mother helped him insert an umbrella into the center of his patio-table-turned-lemonade-stand!  How could we compete with that?  As we sat in the sweltering sun, Mikey Warren’s customers could sit and sip their golden nectar in the shade of that huge, inviting umbrella!

And then the unimaginable happened.  All of our kid customers came back to us and demanded their nickels back.  Why?  Because we didn’t have an umbrella like Mikey Warren did!  I couldn’t believe they were asking for refunds, and I certainly couldn’t believe it when my brothers obliged them.  Had they gone soft?  What was up?

After some discussion among them, I found myself helping my enterprising siblings load our lemonade pitcher and cups into our wagon (the red metal kind, that made a lot of cantankerous rattling as it rolled along on its way).  I ran to keep up as my brothers fiendishly implemented their ingenious plan.  There was a lot of construction going on in our neighborhood, and those workers were thirsty!

Our first stop was the new apartment complex down the street.  We rolled in, and were greeted by a somewhat amused and very thirsty construction worker. 

“How much?” he asked.

“A nickel,” said John, my older brother.

“How much for the whole pitcher?” 

Our eyes widened as our jaws dropped. 

After a clumsy moment of stupefied silence, he boomed, “How ‘bout two dollars?” 

Two dollars!  Our eyes got wider and our jaws dropped lower.

“OK,” said John, trying to play it cool.  He handed him the pitcher.

We gawked in amazement as he chugged down the entire half-gallon pitcher right before our eyes.  Yes!  We were in business!

We spent the rest of the day rolling and rattling at high speed to nearby construction sites with our trusty lemonade-laden wagon, running home to make refills, and then back to bring in more sales.  What a day!  Yes, Mikey Warren got the neighborhood kids’ nickels, but we got filthy rich with the dollars of mighty-thirsty construction workers. 

Did we ever tell Mikey Warren about our day’s haul?  I don’t think so.  But we knew we had dominated the market that day.  Oh, the sweet taste of victory!

I don’t get to see many lemonade stands nowadays, but when I do, I stop…without hesitation.  It doesn’t matter what they’re asking, or how “unhealthy” it looks, I buy it.  I don’t care much for sugar, and I usually pour it out at the next stop light, but I still feel good, knowing I’ve encouraged the entrepreneurial spirit in a new generation!

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2 Responses to “Young Entrepreneurs And Lemonade Stands”

  1. Shallie Bey Says:

    Thanks for a wonderful story. It is beneficial at so many levels. However, I think you summarize with the most important level. It is important to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in a new generation.

    If enough people embrace your point, the war about generational differences in entrepreneurship will fade away. We have lots of problems in the world that will only be solved by entrepreneurs. Let’s get those lemons going.

    Shallie Bey
    Smarter Small Business Blog

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