Lemonade: it’s not just a lark anymore

Starting Young
By  |  May 23, 2012


If you remember when a lemonade stand involved a folding table, pitcher, lemons, and a parent who was tired of hearing "I'm bored!" you'll find those lazy summer days are over. On June 3, lemonade stands staffed by future business owners will be on sidewalks all over Maine, and the nation, as part of Lemonade Day — a national entrepreneurial education program that last year drew 65,000 kids in more than 30 cities.

Started in Houston by the non-profit Prepared 4 Life, the event involved 831 Maine kids in 2011 and is slated to engage more than 1700 across the state next weekend. It's surprisingly high-tech; participants can post a stand location to a Google map; create a site with links for fans to like their stand on Facebook, tweet about their stand, or email contacts stand details; upload ads to the Make Your Own Commercial video contest; and report business results online.

Some aspiring tycoons go even further — for example, Reid's Extreme Lemonade, a stand to be located in front of Fuller Glass Studio (129 Congress Street) this year, took out a full-color advertisement in the Munjoy Hill Observer.

Kate Gooding, a self-proclaimed "serial entrepreneur" and owner of Northern Solstice Publishing, says she brought Lemonade Day to Maine because she is frustrated by the lack of formal entrepreneurial education in a state where 59.7 percent of private-sector jobs are provided by small businesses.

Lemonade Day is actually a month-long learning process involving making a business plan, securing an investor, and planning how to use the proceeds (the group suggests that participants "spend a little, save a little, and share a little" by opening a savings account and donating part of proceeds to charity — after paying back the investors, of course). It culminates in opening a stand on June 3, though some kids open on other days, or stay open through the summer.

"They don't teach this stuff in school, so we've found another way," says volunteer Mary Chris Semron. She notes that the organization tries to target kids who may not be college-bound, since entrepreneurs don't necessarily need a college degree. However, the kids are from a much broader pool than that, and this year the Maine group is able to offer a few college scholarships to Lemonade Day participants. The organization hopes to keep track of the youth who participate, to see what they do in the future with the lessons they have learned.

Haley Houston, 16, who was a winner in last year's Best Recipe Contest, sells more than lemonade at Lemon Love, her large, structural, painted stand made primarily from recycled materials, which will be stationed at Sabattus Disc Golf (605 Bowdoinham Road, Sabattus).

She also features lemon bars, cupcakes, cookies, whoopee pies, cake pops, lemon drops, candy sticks, and jelly beans.

"Participating in this really challenged me to think about different aspects- what all different people would want, instead of just what I would want," said Haley. A portion of her profits go to the Coastal Humane Society, where she volunteers.

And that's the good news; kids really do seem to be learning from participating. "It has been a very good learning experience," said Olivia Toole, 11, who has a stand with her sister Brooke, 7. Although it is the girls' first time participating in Lemonade Day, they have previously managed Knick Knacks & Snacks at the end of their driveway.

"We usually do it with our friend, but now it's just us, and another thing that will be different is this year our stand will be outside the grocery store," said Brooke, "it will still be fun though."

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  Topics: This Just In , Business, childhood, lemonade,  More more >
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