When Life Gives You Lemons, Get a Permit

Who knew setting up a lemonade stand could be so complicated?

Photography from iStockphoto.com

Selling lemonade on the front lawn seems like a fun way for kids to earn a couple bucks during the summer. But does your local sidewalk stand have a permit?

Every year, overzealous police shut down the summer businesses of young entrepreneurs. With permits costing upwards of $50 a day, depending on local regulations, kids have a slim chance at making a profit. While kids are less likely than adults to be penalized for peddling, without documentation kids can be forced to shut down their stand or face a hefty fine—even if they’re just trying to raise money for a good cause.

In 2011, Georgia State Police shut down the lemonade stand of three girls raising funds to go to a water park. Police defended their decision, saying, “We were not aware of how the lemonade was made, who made the lemonade, of what the lemonade was made with, so we acted accordingly by city ordinance.”

Similar situations have occurred in Canada. Twelve-year-old entrepreneurs Alex Pedersen and Mackenzie Burke Sikorra, of Port Coquitlam, B.C., set up a stand in 2010 so Sikorra’s soccer team could get new uniforms. A local bylaw officer told the boys to “pack up” and shut down the stand.

Happily, most law enforcement officers tend to turn a blind eye. Last summer, many kids peddled lemonade without problems:

  • Kendra Clayton, 12, of Halifax, N.S., set up a concession stand and made $250 to buy back-to-school clothes.
  • Madison Lord, 10, of Hamilton, Ont., sold lemonade from her front yard (in a stand decorated with happy-face balloons) and made $50 on her best day.
  • Olivia Thomson, 9, sold lemonade on a rural road to raise money for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

What do you think? Should the law give young entrepreneurs a break, or should children selling the summer beverage be monitored, just like any other business?

For more tales of entrepreneurial adventures gone awry, check out this round-up over at Mental Floss of six illicit lemonade stands that towns had to shut down.

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