Lemonade is a drink that was made for summer. The crisp, tart sweetness of a well-made brew, combined with a pair of perfectly shaped ice-cubes, bobbing in a sweaty glass is just about the finest thing you could ask for after a day spent lounging poolside or mowing the lawn. It just isn’t really summer without lemonade. As I’ve driven around Western New York this summer, I noticed something was missing. People are out walking their dogs, kids are riding their bikes, families are lounging on porches, and the sun has been out. What’s missing is a good old-fashioned lemonade stand.
When I was a kid, I ran my share of lemonade stands, and competition was fierce. The kids down the street would set up hours after I had, slashing their price down to ten cents a glass. I would go down to a nickel. Before you knew it, a full-on price war emerged. My point isn’t just that I’m nostalgic for kids running lemonade stands or that I would love to pull over one day and buy a real, twenty-five cent Dixie cup lemonade, not a McDonald’s frozen lemonade for 99 cents. The point really is that running a lemonade stand can offer some really great lessons for your kids over the summer, and it’s something to consider on the next nice day when you hear the choruses of “I’m bored” starting. So what can be learned from a lemonade stand?
- Economics. The economics of a lemonade stand are fairly simple. There is a demand for lemonade from the neighborhood on a hot day. You have a supply. You find a price that will make people willing to pay you for lemonade rather than making their own, and develop a product that will make them tell their friends and families about it, or even buy a second cup. There are plenty of decisions to make along the way. What kinds of cups should be purchased? What’s the perfect lemonade recipe? Questions of that sort will get kids thinking about entrepreneurship and might create the next Mark Zuckerberg.
- Math. To make sound economic decisions, a solid grasp of math is necessary. If the start-up cost requires a loan, how much money has to be made for the stand to turn a reasonable profit? How much should the initial loan be for? How much lemonade needs to be sold to turn an actual profit? Which cup size will be the most cost-effective, but also most appealing to customers? All these mathematical decisions should be part of the lemonade stand planning phase, and should not be dismissed. When the customers start rolling in, you’ll get practice with money and making change.
- Social skills. Interacting with customers is a huge part of retail. Nobody wants to buy lemonade from someone sulking behind the stand. Being able to interact with potential customers (with a parent or guardian’s supervision!) is a great skill to have.
- Art. Designing the lemonade stand sign, choosing out the perfect table cloth and coordinating cups, and making sure your stand looks appealing are all practice for the artiste in all of us. Great art means great advertising.
Fortunately, start-up costs tend to be low for lemonade stands, and the materials should already be laying around your house. Set up your lemonade stand today, and I promise that I’ll stop by and buy a cup! Although technically opening a lemonade stand may be illegal, most public officials turn a blind eye. Public outcry is so loud when a child’s lemonade stand is shut down that it becomes a public relations nightmare. To further sweeten the idea of this activity, your child can donate the money raised to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which gives money raised to support pediatric cancer research.