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The Lemonade Stand and the fines that weren't fair

Updated: 1 day ago

At the start of the summer and as days are getting warm an American pastime is for kids to run a lemonade stand. These stands are often spontaneous, usually short-term, and frequently have little to no profit margins, being heavily subsidized by the family pantry.


But what these stands lack in monetary gains, they more than yield in educational opportunities. Kids engaged in lemonade stands or other entrepreneurial activities improve skills in money management, problem solving, creativity, leadership, and community involvement.


Who wouldn’t want this for America’s youth every summer, on every street, and in every town?


Unfortunately, across the country, some government officials think these kid-run stands should be shut-down. 36 states have no legal protection for lemonade stands or other kid entrepreneurship, and so the only protection is the local discretion of the current leadership.


For many this laughable oversight has no real teeth. But for youth across America, local officials have tried to take a bite out of their profits. In 2010, a 7-year-old girl had to shut-down her stand in Portland, Oregon at an art vendor event. It was a relief to hear that the crowd at the event was appalled by the regulator, but the stand still had to close.


The regulators claimed, “they had a duty to enforce regulations consistently.” The County Chairman Jeff Cogen could see through the mess and waved the fine saying, “A lemonade stand is a classic, iconic American kid thing to do. I don't want to be in the business of shutting that down."


But in Oregon and all of the Mountain States, lemonade stands are still unprotected by statute and still vulnerable to regulators “being consistent.”


This regulator consistency became frequent enough that Country Time Lemonade created its Legal-Ade in 2018 for “Taking a Stand for Lemonade Stands.” In their press release it reads, “Go ahead, kids. Run your lemonade stands. Country Time Legal-Ade is on your side and will protect you. When life hands you outdated laws, make lemonade, and get Legal-Ade.”


Instead of kids needing to rely on local regulator discretion or a Lemonade Legal-Ade, it is imperative that our elected officials taste the sourness of these laws. Let’s look at Idaho as an example. According to Idaho Code Section 50-307:


50-307. LICENSE OCCUPATIONS AND BUSINESSES. (1) Cities shall have authority to levy and collect a license fee on any occupation or business within the limits of the city and to regulate the same by ordinance. All such fees shall be uniform in respect to the classes upon which they are imposed.


No exemptions exist. Now, back in 2019 a spokesman for previous mayor David Bieter of Boise said, “If children are running a lemonade stand, that’s fine. We love that. It’s a part of growing up and a part of summer.”


But is the current administration okay with that? What about lemonade stands outside of Boise? What about lemonade stands in ten years from now? It is essential that kid-run businesses are protected within the statute and not left to the discretion of future local authorities.


In 2021, the Idaho State House passed a bill that included an exemption in this code by adding:


(2) A business owned and operated exclusively by a person or persons under eighteen (18) years of age is exempt from any licensing, permitting, or fee requirements imposed by a city.


But this bill died in the Senate. It’s time Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington protect lemonade stands within their statutes. Kid entrepreneurship is good for America and shouldn’t be left to the whims of local bureaucrats trying to be consistent.


Helping young entrepreneurs is something I care deeply about. In fact, I wrote a children’s book about a lemonade stand business: The Lemonade Stand in the Middle of Nowhere


In the spirit of that book, here’s a new rhyme for lemonade stand reform.

To learn more about the Clearwater Kids and their lemonade stand, buy their book on Amazon and look forward to new releases from the Common Sense Climb in October.

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