Lemonade Stands Shouldn’t Be Subject To Police, Fines

June 28, 2018

Growing up, I have fond memories of my makeshift lemonade stand I would place near the sidewalk to catch thirsty walkers or drivers. I was six or seven at the time, rather shy, but pretty darn engaging when I attempted to sell my five cent solo cups of lemonade.

Mike Wilcox Mike's Musings Columnist

Mike Wilcox
Mike’s Musings Columnist

How times have changed. Six or seven year olds has become big business, or at least several overbearing city and county officials are trying to make it so. I can cite dozens of incidents where local police and code enforcement officials have demanded in unfriendly terms, the closure of a child’s lemonade stand because the children were unable to produce proper permits and health department licenses.

Just recently sisters Zoey and Andria, in Texas, had their lemonade stand shutdown by police when they couldn’t produce a $150 city permit of meet state regulations on refrigerated beverages. In Oregon a 7-year-old was forced to close here stand by the County. They claimed she did not comply with local health codes and would have to purchase a $120 temporary restaurant license. And in Maryland, county officials issued a ticket to parents because their child’s lemonade stand posed a safety threat in an area where pedestrian and car traffic was supposedly heavy. The citation was written for a whopping $500.

Now I don’t know about you, but I find these money grabs by local municipalities as disgusting. I call them money grabs because requiring a lemonade stand to pay for permits (in one municipality the permit costs were more than $500) is well, just downright indecent. Do our municipalities really need the money that bad that they need to send cops out to close lemonade stands?

I ask, what’s next? Are we going to start demanding babysitters have a license? What about good Samaritans that mow lawns for a paltry fee? Are purveyors of bake sales going to need a food handling license? The list could go on and on, and realistically, the aforementioned could probably put up the money a lot easier than a 7-year-old with a lemonade stand.

Back to my early days, if I cleared a $1 on a given day I was ecstatic. That would have meant I sold 20 cups of lemonade, and that I considered good. Nowadays, the typical cup of lemonade goes for 50 cents or a $1, thus those 20 cups in a day might clear your youngster $10 or $20.

Imagine how long it would take your youngster to clear the $150 city permit or $120 temporary license fee? They would have to sell a couple hundred cups of lemonade just to break even. I know in my neighborhood that wouldn’t have been possible- even over a week’s span.

Local law enforcement shouldn’t be used to shutdown lemonade stands created by six-year-olds. Instead of hassling kindergartners they should be capturing the bad guys. City ordinances shouldn’t be interpreted to include temporary sales by youngsters.

As a nation we need to lighten up. If I had been confronted by the police or code enforcement officers, and told I would be fined if I continued to sell lemonade, I know I would have been traumatized for a good long time. Let the budding entrepreneurs be. Stop the nonsense. Lemonade stands are as American as apple pie and trips to grandmother’s house.

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