Old-Fashioned Lemonade Stand


Starting a new business is a huge and risky undertaking — even more so when you’ve just turned eleven and your business partner, the head of advertising, has just turned ten.

Our two granddaughters, Little One and Sweet Caroline, have a big announcement to make: they are starting a business together. Welcome, Dear Reader, to the best place to cool off this summer, Ye Olde Lemonade Stand. And the way things are going so far, it’s gonna be one sweet educational adventure for the Girly Girls.

The seeds for the new business idea were actually planted late last summer. During a visit to the snow cone stand downtown, I let our granddaughters pick out what flavor they wanted. Of course, they each picked multiple flavors to be on their snow cone. For the next fifteen minutes, we sat around a picnic table cooling off with our icy treat and, to my surprise, having a conversation about business economics.

The girls couldn’t believe I just paid eighteen dollars for three snow cones.

“Why does it cost so much?”

“It’s just water and syrup.”

Between brain freezes, I tried to explain to them the cost of overhead, labor, supplies, rent and having to pay local, state, and federal taxes. They understood everything except having to pay taxes. They didn’t like that idea.

I smiled and said, “No one likes paying taxes, but it’s just one cost of doing business.”

As we got back into the car and headed toward home, the conversation continued, and the girls decided that they too wanted to start a business. When they couldn’t decide what kind, I suggested what my brothers and The Sister did when we were growing up back on Flamingo Street: we started a lemonade stand

Loving the idea, they asked how much to charge per glass. And that’s when the conversation returned to the costs associated with running a business.

The Girly Girls knew they needed lemons, and lots of them. “But we don’t have any money to buy them.”

“Lemons come from trees.” This first fact of their new business left both of them stunned.

“We thought they just came from the grocery store.”

“They do,” I responded, then had a great idea. “You know, you can grow your own. That way you’ll cut out the middleman.”

This innocent comment started a conversation of how they didn’t want to cut the middleman … whoever that was. That would be really mean. Only someone like Down the Street Bully Brad would do a thing like that.

As I turned the car around and headed toward the giant plant nursery with the green roof, I did my best to explain who the “middleman” actually was and how it was indeed a good thing to cut him out.

An hour later, the back of the car was filled with a bag of fruit tree fertilizer and two Meyer lemon trees. On the way back home, the Girly Girls stated that the middleman was really expensive.

I agreed.

“In the long run, a one-time investment of $120 for two Meyer lemon trees that will produce lemons for the next thirty years is well worth the price. It’s just the cost of doing business. Besides, it’s a tax write off, along with the cost of fertilizer, cups, sugar, water to water the plants every week, and anything else you need to operate the business.”

By the time we returned home, after a very lengthy discussion, the Girly Girls had made their first business decision. They didn’t want to run a lemonade stand for the next thirty years, just for the next summer or maybe two.

That was then. This is now.

After six months, I’m proud to announce that we have our first lemon! The green money maker started off about the size of an English pea and now, four months later, and still just as green, has grown to the size of a baseball.

We still have two more months to go before Greenie (yes, the Girly Girls named the lemon) is ready to be picked, squeezed, mixed with sugar, and sold. The juice from one lemon could possibly make two glasses of lemonade. To recoup our startup costs, each glass would have to be sold for sixty dollars. Don’t really think anyone would pay that amount for a glass of homemade lemonade. Upon hearing this, the girls came up with something else they could sell at their stand.

“While waiting for more lemons to grow, we can cut Greenie up and drop a slice of him in glasses of sweet tea.” Their second big business decision was how many slices the lemon could be cut into and how many glasses of tea they could sell. Finally, they decided Greenie could be sliced up ten times, those slices cut in half, and dropped into twenty glasses of tea. “We sell each glass for six dollars, and we’ll break even.”

“If you sell tea, you’ll have to change your business name.”

Welcome, Dear Reader, to the Ye Olde Lemonade and Tea Stand. We serve only the finest homegrown lemons in our tea … and soon, when we grow more lemons, we’ll sell the best lemonade in town. Grand opening this spring in a neighborhood cul-de-sac near you.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories weekly in The Citizen since 2001.]