My kids recently asked me to make a lemonade stand. I was immediately irritated with the idea. We had just returned home from a Cub Scouts camping trip and we were suppose to go to an opening weekend event at the pool later that day. In an attempt not to be “that” mom, I said yes to the lemonade stand. To my surprise the lessons came rapidly, and as usually, comically.
Here is what you’ll need right now to open your own Not Your Mother’s Lemonade Stand:
- You have to start with plenty of quarters and dollar bills to overt a potential shut down, because you couldn’t make change!
- Chairs, a table, lemonade, pitchers, cups, ice, ice holder because, no one likes watered down lemonade, straws, poster board, permanent marker, tape, and a wagon to pull all this shit around, plus an umbrella ( both optional).
The next steps are little more involved (and include math).
A few questions to ask yourself because this is Not Your Mother’s Lemonade Stand:
Are you going to offer free refills?
- They will come if they think there is a bargain. You know who you are! Yes, you. The girl that says she’s saving money because she bought an item “on sale” when in fact there was no money in the budget for the item in the first place.
Will you have a place for people to sit down if they want to stay or have refills?
- You can not turn down the AC to drive customers out; if you capture a customer out walking with his/her kids, can you offer them an incentive to stick around and buy a cup or two?
Do you want to offer nonperishable goods like chips (aka Inventory Turns)?
- Not only do people love to burn through chips, so do the lemonade sellers. Make sure it is clear this consumption will cut into their profits.
Pink, yellow or both pink and yellow lemonade?
- See the marketing experiment below and have fun no matter which color lemonade you choose!
Plastic containers work best when working with children outside; not everyone has a plastic pitcher. Have you considered this?
Also, an HOA can sometimes require a permit, so dumb but true, so check into it. Or teach your kids about street smarts. Your choice. I think rules are for suckers myself.
- If your kids are going to run this lemonade stand, which is really the goal, they are going to need to be able to round up or down easily to make change or add up more then one cup. It’s a great lesson in counting change too.
- We used this brand lemonade in pink and yellow, which came out to 2.48 before taxes and runs the same price at Walmart. This quantity can make six gallons/16 cups per pitcher. We sold each cup for $0.50 and offered free refills.
If you do the math that is potentially $48 if you sold each cup (not including startup costs/bank)
Location, Time & Marketing
- Check into events in your area. For example, if you have a baseball field in your subdivision, find out when teams practice there to capture the most revenue. Setup at a busy intersection that has a four way stop for convenience.
- Advertise the lemonade stand on your local neighborhood Facebook page.
- And my favorite: fill one pitcher fuller then the other and ask the kids to monitor which one sells the quickest. Keep in mind people like to be right and the pitcher that is less full will appear to be the best decision. Kids love this kind of data!
Provide a Quality Product
- I am a big proponent of limiting sugar in my diet. It can be difficult to limit natural sugar let a alone processed ones. If you are worried people will oppose sugar in your demographics, do not provide bother. Some are against all artificial sugars, so know your market and sell accordingly, but always provide the best product you can.
Labor/Cost of Doing Business
This is no joke. The boss will quickly rise to the top. In this scenario it was my daughter, because it was “her idea”. She negotiated labor costs and hours. She wanted to pay her two brothers $0.25 an hour insisting it was child labor (aka, they are not adults, so why should I pay them like adults) and they didn’t deserve more. After many negotiations the oldest brother led a successful walkout which led to a $2.00 hike in pay. Of course, not long after he expressed his distain for her management style and quit, returning home with his chair in hand vowing to become the competition.
The cost of doing business can come in all forms; whether you are paying for labor, inventory or gas to travel to your lemonade stand site, it all counts. Take the time to make a sign and help your kids purchase the items they will need to run a successful lemonade stand. Keep in mind they need to be able to negotiate the prices easily to keep the experience fun. There are plenty of ways to make your potential customers happy. For example, do not make the cups of lemonade in advance, thus avoiding protein (aka bugs) landing in their cup and ice melting and watering down their refreshing beverage. Extras are always nice, so if you don’t mind storing inventory, buy things like chips and candy to boost traffic. More importantly, pick some prime real estate and advertise the bargain awaiting the onlookers.
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