The other day, while coming back from one of my assignments, I saw something that made me slam on the brakes-two little girls manning a lemonade stand. I just had to stop.
I consider these stands as iconically American as apple pie and hot dogs. But the sad thing is you just don’t see many kids with this kind of entrepreneurial spirit any more. I guess lemonade stands are old-fogey to most youngsters, but I took delight in this one because it not only brought a big grin to my face, but also brought up plenty of happy memories.
In fact, I can honestly say that a lemonade stand was my first venture into the world of entrepreneurship as a youngster; something I was woefully unaware of until my brother and I decided that what we considered a paltry allowance could be augmented by profits made from one of these businesses.
But we had a problem. No money to start our venture. We went to our mother who informed us “I’m not Mrs. Rockefeller,” but would consider giving us a dollar in seed money if we would present her with a “business plan.” We didn’t know what a business plan was. “Well, I want to know how you are going to spend my investment,” she told us.
We had not considered this fact but nonetheless embraced it as if our life depended on it. First, we figured that to be really profitable we were going to have to serve a fantastic product and in our mind that meant fresh squeezed lemonade; none of the powdered stuff. So we went to the grocery store and priced out lemons and sugar. We also had a big discussion in the paper aisle on the size of the cups we were going to use and we determined that the family’s beat up picnic jug would be our dispenser, since it had a thump-pressed button that would make serving easy.
And then after all these considerations we presented the plan to our mother who only had one question-What were we going to do with all the lemon rinds that were sure to accrue after squeezing the lemons?
We hadn’t thought of this technicality but decided a big hole in the back of the garden was the answer and this satisfied our “banker” who presented us with a dollar which we assured her would be paid back in full.
You know the old slogan in real estate “location, location, location?” Well, we certainly had that in our favor for our stand. At that time in my childhood we lived directly across the street from the public pool and we set up our enterprise so those entering or leaving could not miss it. And they didn’t either. Within a short time that jug of juice was gone and by the time we squeezed more lemons we had people waiting for our delicious homemade concoction. We squeezed lemons until our fingers bled and our elbows ached and the big hole in the back of the garden was almost full of bright yellow half spheres.
And all this work paid off. We were rich! We satisfied our investor and took out additional seed money for future stands and then embarked on a spending spree like no other. I bought so much candy it looked like I had gone trick-or-treating in July.
Inevitably we spent ourselves into debt again but with our new found business acumen we would just set up another stand. This continued throughout several summers of our childhood. In fact, we even expanded our inventory by providing cookies which we learned, provided even more of a profit than our homemade brew. However, we were poor investors and even worse savers. I can recall blowing my earnings on the stupidest stuff including many whoopee cushions, invisible ink pens, a dog whistle (we didn’t even have a dog) and one time I bought a cat which my mother made me return.
So when I saw this lemonade stand on the corner of Oneida Avenue and Rives Street the other day I had to stop. Maddie and Emma Netzer were more than happy to pose for a picture, and after a little chat, I found out they are from Bloomington, Minnesota. They were staying with their grandmother, Jean Kroll, who was proud of her granddaughters sitting so patiently manning their stand.
But I was also very curious to find out just what kids are blowing their money on these days, and asked them what they would be doing with their profits. “Well, whatever we make we are sending to the children of Sudan who are starving,” said Maddie. My jaw dropped.
“For real?” I asked incredibly. No candy, no overpriced cats, no fake dog poo? Their grandmother confirmed this.
So I guess entrepreneurship is not a lost art among our youth today and I’m glad to see they are spending their money a lot more wisely, and humanely, than I ever thought possible.
But you can see what I mean-there’s nothing like a little lemonade stand to teach the lessons of wise financial investments, even if they don’t include a good whoopee cushion or two.
Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
1 cup white sugar
6 cups cold water
Juice the lemons to make 1 cup of juice. To make your labor easier, FIRMLY roll the lemons between your hand and counter top before cutting in half and juicing. In a gallon pitcher combine 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, and 6 cups cold water. Stir. Adjust water to taste. Chill and serve over ice.
Chocolate Macadamia Cookies
1 pkg. Duncan Hines Home-Style Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. water
2/3 cup macadamia nuts
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine cookie mix and cocoa in large bowl. Add oil, egg and water. Stir until thoroughly blended. Stir in macadamia nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute on baking sheets and remove.