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July 20, 2007

News & Opinion: Who wants to run a lemonade stand with me?

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 4:24 PM – Filed under: Innovation & Creativity

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Tis the time for lemonade stands -- a business venture I remember all too well. Dixie cups. Kid-sized plastic table. Large plastic pitcher. The sign with "Lemonade: 25 cents" scrawled in kids' penmanship. Charming smiles. And of course, our prime lemonade-selling real estate on the main road of the neighborhood. The customers that donated $1 to our cause were millionaires in our minds. If we earned $20 in three hours, we were rolling in the dough.
A friend and I were discussing this business the other day. It made me realize just how much it has changed in my fifteen-year absence. My friend told of running into a lemonade stand ran by a boy of about 10 years. Now most lemonaires I've run into have marker on their fingers from sign making and are running around in bathing suits to take the occasional dip in the sprinkler.
Not this little entrepreneur. He was in his best Sunday suit -- truly a Wall Street-er in the making.
The lemonade was running for the bargain price of 25 cents (apparently, inflation has yet to hit lemonade). My friend started asking the little boy a few questions about his stand and business. To which he replies, "I've only been here 2 hours today and I've made, um, about $56." Somehow, he was earning $27/hour. Perhaps it was the business suit, the fresh lemon slice in each cup, or maybe the colored straw.
Yes, the lemonade stand world is more lucrative than I thought.
Author Ray Davis is helping kids realize their lemonade stand dreams. Ray, who is the president of the infamous customer-centered Umpqua Bank, recently announced putting $830,000 towards lemonade stand kits for kids (password required; click here for help).
Kids under 13 can apply and, if accepted, will receive:
...a lemonade stand kit, which includes a booklet called "How to Become a Lemonaire: A Guide to Starting Your First Small Business,"with tips on how to share, save and spend money responsibly; a yellow, plastic tablecloth; a sign for "(fill in the name's) lemonade stand"; cups and napkins; and a $10 bill for start-up capital. (The "loan" does not have to be paid back, although at least one proprietor has done that.)

If only they'd put the $10 bill in quarters, dimes and nickels so the kids could make change. If you know a budding entrepreneur, applications can be found at Umpqua banks and in newspapers in Portland, Bend, Eugene and Medford, Oregon, and Chico, Eureka, Sacramento and Yuba City, California.
And if anyone wants to go into lemonade business with me, I'm taking applications.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.