A Lemonade Stand that Did NOT Cost $280? Imagine that!

Folks — I am loving your responses to the post below this one, which was about all the expensive things a parenting magazine says you need for a lemonade stand. (And the fact that the mag also calls it a “family lemonade stand,” as if kids can’t possibly be trusted to do anything on their own. ) So feel free to peruse them. Here’s one that made me cheer:

Dear Free-Range Kids: This post inspired the perfect kind of summer-fun afternoon for my girls, ages 8 and 7 and 4. And as a side-benefit, it also put an end to the fighting and whining that can drive a mom crazy during summer 🙂
The girls were over the moon excited when I asked them if they would like to make a lemonade stand!

After a quick trip to the store for lemons, cups and ice (we spent only about $7), they made some quick handmade signs on poster board that we had lying around the house. Taped one to the side of their wagon and had another one for waving in the air to attract customers. And yes, they hand-squeezed 8 lemons to make a gallon of homemade lemonade without my help.

Then they loaded it all up on their wagon and went off on their own around the corner and to the stop sign at the end of our cul de sac where they spent two hours manning their stand. They took turns waving the sign, taking the money, and pouring the lemonade. And from what they told me, they learned a lot about teamwork and good salesmanship (I wouldn’t know for sure, because I wasn’t there. I stayed home except for bringing them each a hot dog for dinner because they were too busy to come home.)

But the best part for me was the looks of excitement and pride on their faces as they gave me an account of each customer. After they counted up their money, they planned a shopping trip to buy what they need so they can do it again tomorrow. Ended up with $24 profit!

I think the spontaneity and independence they were able to show by planning and preparing and selling all on their own is what made this, “The most excellent day ever,” to quote my 7 year old.  – Erin

27 Responses

  1. Brilliant! That is a lesson in work ethic at it’s best. Not dolled up and over supervised as a stimulating activity. But engaged in, with hard work providing added value and turning into profit!

  2. Ah, but of course, THIS is the stuff of life, not having a factory-painted, particle-board-and-laminate name-brand lemonade stand.

    The problem is that most people get pretty confused these days about what the stuff of life is. They think it’s stuff, instead of quality of experience.

  3. Here is the ultimate kid’s lemonade stand, a kid encouraging other kids to do an awesome thing.

    Janet, mom to 12yo cancer warrior

  4. Hooray for Erin and her terrific kids!

  5. I remember having a big red tupperware pitcher of koolaid across the street from our house where an auction was being held. Made about $7 which was a small fortune in the early 80s! My kids sold cans of pop out of our yard last summer as we lived on a street near our city’s summer festival. After paying me for the pop, each of my four kids walked away with around $10 each.

  6. My kids have done the same thing over the years. My son learned that you can even sell paper airplanes the same way.

  7. Love this! Also, just read this article and it fits in perfectly with the Free-Range philosophy and discussions: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2012/07/02/120702crbo_books_kolbert?currentPage=all
    By the New Yorker, called Spoiled Rotten.

  8. This is for Janet: Please look into the Budwig Protocol for cancer prevention/cure.

  9. My siblings and I had the best limonada stand for blocks around. Every summer afternoon, we’d set up our wooden plank and tablecloth stand out in our neighborhood where most families had four to six kids per household and traffic was abundant. My older sister baked brownies and cookies, we sold plums and apricots from our backyard, plus my Nana Herminia gave us the candy that wasn’t selling well at their restaurant. When we complained to my grandmother, mid-summer, after an unusually slow day that our competition had added cookies, she told us to stop whining and think. What could we do better? We added bubble gum and and had free delivery up to two blocks away….

  10. As you said…imagine that! Lol Those articles crack me up, when they insist that you need certain brands or a certain type of equipment to get the job done. I’m sure people buy “lemonade stands”…, but again…I can only imagine someone doing it. lol

  11. @Janet – what a great site! And what a gutsy kid. Such a shame Alex lost her battle, but what a lot she packed in…All the best with your warrior!

    @Freedom for Kids – I am positive you mean well, but please be a little careful about recommending alternative treatments, particularly ones not backed up by research. I have just looked up Dr. Budwig, and her doctorate was in Physics, not medicine.

    We as a family have had years of people telling us our ‘sick’ kid shouldn’t be going to the doctor all the time,or having antibiotics – that instead she should be eating this, that or the other. One ‘delightful’ lady even informed us that the problems were caused by the lines of magnetism of the Earth under her bed, and that it needed shifting. (Which was fascinating, seeing her exceptionally healthy sister slept exactly above her, presumably directly over the same lines of magnetism). Anyway, thank the good Lord we have a wonderful doctor who just kept prescribing antibiotics, told us to stop feeling guilty and keep making her take vitamins and eat a normal healthy diet as well. She has finally been diagnosed with Primary Immune Deficiency, and will need bags of antibody replacement every 2 to 3 weeks for life, but the only thing that has kept her relatively healthy so far has been the antibiotics – not untested dietary stuff, or weirdo ideas.

    Anyway the point of my off-topic rant is that please, there is enough for people to process when going through medical stuff, and cancer particularly. There are well-established routes for medical research, and protocols etc for testing. Recommendations for basically not-rigorously tested treatment by non-medical people often just confuse the issue, and can lead to guilty feelings and just plain confusion (or at least it did with us, and we just have a chronic kid, not an extremely ill kid – not most of the time, anyway).

    Well, that’s enough from me. Sorry, am still processing all the above, and letting go of all the guilty feelings, which is kind of odd, as I am not one of those new age types, so was surprised to work out how many I’d had, now that we’ve kind-of been ‘vindicated’. Can’t imagine what you’re going through, Janet……

    Have a great day, Janet, Freedom for Kids – and everyone else :-).

    Hope any of you in Colorado are all right – those bushfires look nasty!

  12. Bonus with the stand being wagon-based: They could move around according to market demand! Those kids will be ready to run a food truck before they’re old enough to drive!

  13. You know it’s funny; where I live we have lots and lots of “hippies” buying old travel trailers and converting them into mobile kitchens. These aren’t fly by night folks; these are full blown restaurant kitchens stuffed into a tiny trailer I saw one built into an Aloha trailer the other day; an absolute gem.

    We have mexican, thai, espresso, you name it, all being served out of repurposed travel trailers.

    How much do you want to bet some of these folks got a start at a lemonade stand?

  14. We have a new “greenway” trail in our neighbourhood for walking and biking. The boys and I were out for a bike ride the other night and there was a girl of about 10 with a cooler, a lawn chair and a cardboard sign selling bottled water for $1 a piece on the side of the trail. I can get a case of 24 bottled water here for about $3. She was making a pretty good profit!

  15. Janet—-Dr. Budwig was a seven-time Nobel nominee for her extensive research which resulted in her Budwig Protocol.

  16. Missi and Uly- both great articles! Thanks for the recommendation!

  17. Sorry Freedom For Kids, Nobel Prize nominations are sealed for 50 years, and not normally released after that as there are normally 100s or even 1000s.

  18. Thanks for posting our story, Lenore! The girls had another great day at their stand today and their spirits remain undampened, despite the rain shower that sent them home early.They are full of ideas for improving their sales and excited by their newly-discovered independence. When I drove them to the grocery store to get supplies, they even made sure I walked several paces behind them to make sure I wasn’t “influencing” their choices while they seriously discussed their options. Love it!

  19. Erin, that is awesome. I can only hope my muchkins will get as excited by such enterprises when they are old enough. For now my son thinks getting five cents for picking up his sister’s toys is the greatest thing on Earth.

  20. To think that “way back when” – though not so long ago, wondrous stories like this one were “normal”. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! I can just see the girls giggling with pride.

  21. And THAT’S how children are suppose to grow up. Great article. AND they didn’t spend $300 to set up a lemonade stand. Nothing beats old school. Well…except the tech. Some parents are letting their kids miss out on real childhood, and it’s almost always because the parents are the ones that are insecure and scared.

  22. @Liz: Now that’s healthy competition, ingenuity, and entrepreneurship. Even grandma knew how smart kids can be if you let them figure things out on their own. And the rewards that come with accomplishing things on their own.

  23. Another thing about a DIY lemonade stand versus an overpriced, brand-name, store-bought lemonade stand, is the fact that a DIY stand can easily become a puppet theatre, or the base for a simple carnival game (like the “knock-over-the-milk-bottles” game), or any number of other things. It’s the same general principle of “the less the toy does, the more the kid does.”

  24. My girls sold lemonade last summer (also fresh squeezed, I think we spent about $10 total) for $.25 a cup. They made like $20 profit and THEY LOVED IT!! It was the first time that they every made their own money (that wasn’t allowance or birthday money). Next summer they plan to sell their homemade pickles that they make from the cucumbers from their garden. I think they’ll be selling those for a little more than $.25, though, since we have to buy jars.

  25. My 11 and 9 year olds rode their bikes to the store, bought the lemons. Then squeezed the lemons, made the lemonade, put up their stand, and sold the lemonade with no help from me. I think it’s awesome and kudos to everyone here that lets their kids do this kinda stuff! This is what summer is all about!

  26. Two sawhorses, an old piece of plywood, an old white sheet and some hand-decorated signs.

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