By Fred Bastiason
Reliable industry data is hard to find but it seems obvious that the sidewalk lemonade industry is down significantly in recent months. To get some insights into the situation, I asked my neighbor Trisha (not her real name) what is going on.
Me: Trisha, as a veteran lemonade stand entrepreneur, what’s going on in the industry.
Trisha: Actually the whole industry has tanked. I haven’t set up my stand in months, and none of the other kids have either.
M: Why? Is it the economy? Are people afraid to spend money on lemonade while there is still so much uncertainty?
T: Maybe in part, but the real problem is all the shut downs we’ve seen. In recent months kids with lemonade stands in Wisconsin, Missouri, California, Georgia, Oregon, and elsewhere have been shut down by government bureaucrats and have had to spend time defending themselves. It might not have gotten much press, but if you’re in the industry you pay attention to this stuff.
M: Have you been shut down?
T: No. But frankly it’s a hassle to buy the supplies, make the lemonade, clean up the mess before Mom sees it, and sit out on the sidewalk all afternoon. It can be worth it if you make a few bucks. But if you also have to jump through regulatory hoops or sweat the possibility of being harassed by the government, why bother? It’s just not worth it anymore.
M: Does that mean that you will not be hiring kids to help you this year?
T: Yes. I feel badly for them, but there’s not much I can do.
M: But President Obama says that businesses should invest and hire people.
T: President Obama has never run a lemonade stand.
M: What has the shutdown done to your income? Are you looking at other opportunities?
T: Actually, I’m lobbying my parents for a bigger allowance. Financially speaking, politicking for parental aid is probably a better use of my time than trying to start a business under these circumstances.
M: Can your parents afford the larger allowance during these tough economic times?
T: Technically no. Our family income has dropped significantly. But they don’t think it’s fair to balance the budget on the backs of the less fortunate like me, so they’re considering increasing their debt to cover the allowance shortfall. Who am I to tell them otherwise?
M: What about your customers? I miss being able to buy lemonade on hot days. Is there any lemonade available elsewhere?
T: What remains of the industry has gone underground. If you know someone, and they trust you, you can probably obtain some from a dealer on the black market.
M: What if I don’t know anybody?
T: You didn’t hear it from me, but I understand that if you cruise slowly down the 800 block of Mulberry a couple of times, you can probably score some ‘ade. It will cost you, though. And be careful -- you can run across some pretty tough kids.
M: Thank you.
Copyright 2011, Center for Faith and Enterprise. Permission to reprint or otherwise reproduce is hereby granted, on condition it be reproduced in its entirety and proper attributiongiven to F. Bastiason and the Center for faith and Enterprise.
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