lessons from a lemonade stand


A couple of weeks ago Claire begged me to let her set up a lemonade stand. She’d also begged the week before that and the week before that.

There were a number of reasons I didn’t want to do this.

  1. We’d made zero preparations. I’m not exactly a spontaneous person. I felt we needed to have a good table, and decent signage and maybe go get some GOOD lemonade, not the crappy Crystal Light I usually make my own kids drink.
  2. I am lazy.

Okay, two reasons. Three if you count the fact that we didn’t have any disposable cups.

The cups were a problem, because although I applaud her outside-the-box thinking, I was not going to give away my drinking glasses, nor was I going to make them stand there and finish their lemonade so they could hand the glass back to us.

Claire has a lot of faces, and this day, she had her logical, girls gonna get sh*t done face on. I appreciate this face from time to time. It’s the face that is persistent and sticks to its guns. It’s the face that knows what it wants. It’s the face that calls me out when it knows I’m making excuses for no good reason.

“Well, I mean, we could go GET some cups….”

Dammit, she was right. We could literally drive to the Walgreens not two miles from our house and get some stupid cups. So I said okay. Because sometimes we just have to give in to our kids’  entrepreneurial spirits, even when you fear the results will be disastrous. Also, I knew she would pester me about this until I let her do it.

I dragged a tiny end table out to the sidewalk, and we taped signs she had made to the side, but it was windy and the table was round, so you couldn’t really read them. But she didn’t care. She sat back in her chair, cups at the ready, awaiting her first customers. “I hope people come,” she said.


The lemonade stand was a smashing success. Watching her in action as a little entrepreneur taught me a few lessons.

• It doesn’t have to be perfect to be successful. We had one tiny table, a pitcher of mediocre Crystal Light, and some janky signs. And my kids made bank. They collected over $17, which is over $17 more than I predicted they would make.

• This was a great learning opportunity. They had to figure out everything from how to get customers to details like where to put the money they collected. And to be honest, I gave very little input. They took their ideas and ran with them.

• Adults love kids with lemonade stands. I mean, our lemonade was not the best. It was probably pretty gross. Room temperature Crystal Light. But everyone pretended it was the best lemonade they’d ever had. And hardly anyone actually paid the measly $.25 asking price.

• There’s a balance between confidence and humility. Coach your kids to maybe not say, “Wow, look how much money we’ve made!” (That lesson’s for next time.)

• Kids deserve more credit than we give them. This is the big one. Despite my reservations, Claire had so much of this business figured out already, and she wasn’t going to let me keep her down. She had the idea. She made the lemonade. She made the signs. She provided prompt and cheerfu service to her customers. She did lemonade outreach, something I never would have done as a kid. She wasn’t shy about soliciting the neighbors, cars driving by, and even going to ask the burly, tattooed dudes who just finished their workout down the street (one of my neighbors trains boxers) (like the fighters, not the dogs) (we didn’t give lemonade to dogs). Those softies dug around their cars for change to come buy some crappy lemonade from a little girl.

And because of her efforts, she received 40% of the profits. Rachel and Zoe each got 30%. We went to the craft store a few days later to get a birthday gift, and she used some of her hard-earned money to buy one of those plastic Flash Charm necklaces and two plastic charms – the same ones that WE all had in the 80s (remember those?).

I’d say it was well worth it.

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  1. Definitely, the great success of lemonade stands comes from how we adults feel about them — so willing to support kids’ endeavors in this sweet, old-fashioned, entrepreneurial fashion . Paco and his cousin had a stand a few years ago, and they RAKED it in.

    Glad you made that drive to Walgreens, Ma.

    1. I constantly have to remind myself to hide me feelings about something (UGH LEMONADE STAND THAT WILL BE SUCH A BOTHER AND NO ONE WILL COME) and let them learn the lessons themselves (WE MADE TONS OF MONEY!).

  2. The last time we had a lemonade stand, they just poured lemonade made from Minute Maid into cups.
    So there is that.

  3. That sounds like what I would be thinking if my kids wanted to set up a lemonade stand. And good for them! I like that entrepreneurial spirit. I haven’t seen a lemonade stand for ages. Probably all the kids are inside playing Wii.

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