Lemons: Take a Stand
BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
As predictable as dandelions in April and boulevard flags on July 4th, neighborhood lemonade stands are popping up again in Wisconsin’s St. Croix Valley. Business owners in search of the next generation of leaders say the stands are a sight for sore eyes. It takes a lot of resilience to plan, operate, and sustain the lowly lemonade stand. But they can also spark successful entrepreneurial careers.
Lemonade stands took a big hit during COVID. Kids tried creativity by using canned products and drive-through service. One sign featured a masked lemon. Another proclaimed an immunity boost from the lemons. That statement was not evaluated by the FDA, however. Another sign read, “Last Chance Lemonade” located one block before drivers hit a state highway with no turning back. Consumers still shied away.
They’re back in 2022. Recently, residents in a North Hudson, Wisconsin neighborhood may have witnessed an economic development leader slow his vehicle to a crawl after he spotted a stand. It was a no brainer. Out he jumped and was greeted by the stand’s operators. They asked, “Lemonade?” He shook his head to signal no. “Where’s your tip jar?” he asked. “And your signs up the street?” He got a couple of shrugs. “Here’s a dollar for a tip,” he said. “And keep up the good work. We need more business people like you.” The operators quickly figured it out. A transaction did not take place, but they received some good advice and were a dollar ahead.
The economic development guy resisted the temptation to embellish the young operators about the Five Ps of a business plan – product, price, place, people, and promotion. He’d save it for another day or another stand. If the Five Ps came up again, he’d suggest the Small Business Development Center, a resource where businesses of all sizes and shapes receive timely advice, including a class along the lines of Business Plan Writing 101.
Lemonade stands still face many uphill battles, including successfully navigating rules and regulations. It took the governor’s pen on November 26, 2019 (not a misprint) for Wisconsin kids to operate lemonade stands without licenses as long as the stands are on private property, the operators are under 18 and sales are less than $2,000. The bill also prohibited local units of government from imposing bans on kid’s lemonade stands. Huzzah! Several other states are recognizing the value of the can-do lemonade stand.
As a wrap-up to the North Hudson story, the economic development guy stopped at the curb and asked, “Open tomorrow?” He got a “Yep” in unison. Sounding like a warning but intended as advice, he said, “OK, I’ll be looking for the tip jar and signs. And keep up the good work!”
From resiliency to heartwarming, don’t underestimate the economic impact of neighborhood lemonade stands, especially those in the St. Croix Valley.