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Archive for Monday, April 30, 2012

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River City Jules: Young entrepreneurs

April 30, 2012

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Springtime not only brings the new flowers in the garden and the new rabbits who will eat them, but the entrepreneurial spirit of lemonade stand operators in neighborhoods everywhere.

Ellie spent one spring many years ago converting three-by-five cards into handheld, hand-operated, accordion-folded paper fans. Brightly decorated and a bargain at only 25 cents each, these fans sold like crazy to kind neighbors and visiting grandparents.

She passed on her passion for peddling to her siblings. Amelia generally stuck with lemonade, but the recession (or his mother’s reluctance to buy drink mix) forced Luke to sell ice water. Unfortunately the recession also hit buyers, and Luke shut down the ice water stand permanently after one sweaty hour.

Caroline and her friend, Sophie, set up a lemonade stand in our backyard hoping to attract the boys shooting airsoft guns at each other. But their potential customers were too engrossed in the war zone to stop for refreshments, and the duo ended up drinking lemonade and eating popcorn while watching the boys defend the lookout tower.

My favorite lemonade stand of all time, though, hit our neighborhood when Davis, an adorable boy up the street from us with a business mind beyond his years, woke up early one morning and, noting the number of neighbors in the cul-de-sac already mowing their lawns, decided to capitalize on their surely-growing thirst.

He quietly crept into the garage so as not to disturb his parents, stealthily setting up a card table at the end of the driveway. Storefront up, customers in the queue, he just needed to stock his shelf and he would be in business. Unfortunately, Davis was only 5 years old, and, while capable of dragging a card table to the curb, he did not know how to make lemonade.

He did, however, recall a number of ready-made beverages in the garage refrigerator which he transported to the card table, arranging them by height from shortest to tallest.

The shortest items, a few cans of Slim Fast, were listed at 50 cents. Next up, a few bottles of Gatorade, were marked 75 cents each. Towering over the rest and, therefore, worth more, stood a few bottles of Michelob Ultra for just a buck a piece.

It was this last item that caught the eye of Davis’ neighbor, Dave. Thirsty from a morning of mowing and ready to start happy hour early, Dave came over with a dollar and a smile. Unfortunately for Dave, happy hour was going to have to wait, though, as Davis’s dad, probably on a hunt for his son though possibly curious as to where his beer had gone, discovered Davis’s operation and, before the authorities could shut him down for selling liquor without a license, returned Davis’ smuggled inventory to its rightful place in the fridge.

Davis is still 10 years away from being able to legally reopen his business, but I have a feeling he’ll have a long line of patrons waiting at the door for the early bird special.

— Julie Dunlap can be reached at go@ljworld.com.

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