Why I Always Stop at Lemonade Stands


Today I was cruising through Naperville and spotted the 5-ish year old girl working hard under a large sunhat and pair of colorful sunglasses.

She sat behind the table, which was home to a large container of the sweet looking nectar of the mighty lemon. Also on the table were small paper cups and baggies filled with pretzel sticks (nice up sell…get us thirsty and we’ll be back).

Out near the driveway was a small sign that read, “Lemonade $.25.” Taped to the table was another colorful sign that read, you guessed it, “Lemonade $.25.”

Helping this little entrepreneur was the Mighty Mom of the little girl named P.J. Mom sat next to her and coached her every move:

“When someone walks up to our table, we should say…”

“When someone asks how much it costs, we should tell them…”

“When someone gives you a tip, we should always say…”

As fate would have it, I was their first client today.  As I pulled up, Mom jumped up and down, smiled and said “Thank you for stopping!” Apparently, it had been a tough morning in the lemonade business!

As I placed my order (I bought 2 cups) a man happened to be walking by.  So, I looked at him, smiled and tossed him a quarter and said, “Let me buy you a cup of lemonade!”

Our walking man stopped, smiled and said, “I d..do not speak g..good English.” I said, “That’s ok..have some lemonade on me!” and made a drinking motion with my hand as I pointed to the lemonade on the table.

The happy stranger smiled and said “Thank you,” and then proceeded to carry on about his business and kept walking…

…with my quarter!

Why Do I Always Stop at Lemonade Stands?

Contrary to what you may be thinking, I do not stop to give away my money to happy strangers.  So, that won’t make the list today! Below, are a few reasons why I always make it a point to stop and patronize our small entrepreneurs:

  1. They have the ‘bouncy balls’ to take a risk.  Seriously, only God knows what mom or dad had to say to encourage the kid to get out there and try something.  The last thing I want to see is a kid forever discouraged because nobody stopped to buy a product from their new business (you know we all have deep childhood issues!). Small business is the driving force behind our economy. I say support small business and buy local!
  2. They are taking action. That’s right.  They’re not sitting on the sideline waiting for a handout. Maybe they have a goal to buy a new Hello Kitty Pencil Box or an XBox Memory card.  Whatever their reason, they are making something happen. They got out there and are creating something from nothing.  That’s entrepreneurship! That’s worth paying attention to and honoring!
  3. I want to help out mom and dad.  If these parents are anything like me and my wife they are trying to help their kids ‘find their thing.’ Their also trying to get the kids outside and to teach them to be creative and try things. The world we live in will demand our kids to step up and make some things happen in life.  I want to help my fellow parents.
  4. Kids should learn about money.  There’s no safer place to learn about things like direct labor costs, material costs and understanding your break even point!  When you lose it all at age 6 you still have ‘3 hots and a cot!’
  5. Sales can be a lonely world. I often stop just to ease the pain of the struggling lemonade stand.
  6. It helps kids learn to talk to people (and in the presence of mom!). Our kids use their thumbs more than their mouths. Eye to eye conversation is a skill that they all need to develop. They can practice on me.
  7. Finally, I’m usually just thirsty. I need hydration.  I have have spare change. What better place to go than your local lemonade stand!

Here’s my challenge for you.  The next time you see a young visionary working hard for a quarter on Main Street, stop your car and help them out! Give them encouragement and some practice for the real world.

PS- Don’t forget to smile and tell them they’re doing a really great job!

PPS- If you see a happy dude with an accent walking around Naperville tossing a quarter up in the air…