Monday, August 22, 2011

The One About the Lemonade Stand

Wow, it's been a while since I've updated the blog! Too many interesting things going on in real life these days.

One of the interesting things was Lemonade Freedom Day, which was Saturday. My kids had their first lemonade stand ever and they had tons of fun. Their friend Livy (Kelly's daughter) was here for the whole thing from start to finish.

On Friday, we made a list of supplies we'd need: lemonade mix (we went with Country Time), ice, water, cups, napkins and cookies. Then I took all four kids to the grocery store to buy the supplies. I bought a pitcher at the last minute, which I donated to the cause.

They spent a long time deliberating over their purchases: do we buy cheap foam cups or slightly more expensive plastic cups? (They opted for cheap.) How many cups and napkins do we need? How many boxes of cookies (our most costly supply) were ideal?

When we got home, I wrote out the cost information so they'd know how much they needed to pay me back out of their revenue.

I was willing to donate some of the supplies if business was really terrible because part of the reason we were doing this in the first place was due to MY desire to be part of the Lemonade Freedom Day protest, so it seems only fair that I'd be willing to eat (so to speak) some of the costs. But I also wanted some of my money back, too. So they learned that you need some start-up capital to get a business going, and that you also need to pay that capital back to your backer. :D No, I did not charge interest on the loan, which is good because Ryan was pretty disappointed to learn that this seed money was just a loan.

Next they needed to set the prices. I made only one suggestion during this process and that had to do with the cookies, which were our most expensive supply as I said. I helped them realize that their original price was probably set too low if they wanted to recover their costs/make a profit. Then they agreed on a name for their business: "Casey and Friends Lemonade Stand."

Morgan, Livy, and Sean were on the marketing/graphic design team and created a sign:

Ryan didn't want to work on the sign, and volunteered to handle all the money. Nobody is surprised by this, I'm sure. While the others worked on signage, he counted out quarters to bring to make change for customers.

The final thing they did to prepare for the business was to make a practice pitcher or two of lemonade. Best to know the recipe before you have thirsty customers! It's a good thing they practiced, too, because we learned about the importance of A.) not throwing the lemonade label in the trash, and B.) reading the instructions helpfully provided on the label. Yippee Mistakes!

Saturday morning was a beautiful summer morning. Hot. Just the right kind of day for lemonade-standing, we thought. I went off to CrossFit, so Brendan helped them get their table out into the yard and get everything set up. The jugs of water had been in the cooler all night and were nice and cold. They mixed up some lemonade, opened up some cookies, put out their shingle and were open for business!

When I returned from CrossFit, they hadn't had very many customers, but they were enjoying the business and seemed to enjoy their own wares, too. They agreed that any of the principals of the company would need to purchase lemonade and cookies just like any customer, which is a good practice, I think. So they kept running back inside and showing up with money to buy themselves more lemonade and cookies. I bought a cookie and lemonade and they were super-delicious!

More customers came, including a family I've known online for many years, but we've never met in person. They have two kids with food allergies and as we were serving safe cookies, they made an effort to come to the lemonade stand. All of the kids played and ate cookies and got to know each other and I had a great time chatting with my online-now-real-life-friend! :D :D :D The kids had a couple more neighborhood customers, then our friends Martin and Melissa, who do not live at all close to us, dropped by.

I loved how the kids handled EVERYTHING. They mixed up lemonade and handed out cookies on napkins and managed the money. There were long stretches of time when Brendan and I were inside with Sean (who did NOT like working the lemonade stand on such a hot day) or just chatting with friends and neighbors. In fact, I did absolutely nothing to help them on Saturday and the only thing Brendan did was help them move the table.

After it was over, they counted their money and ended up with a profit of a little over $15 which they split three ways. Sean didn't get a cut, because he didn't really help except for the sign. Also, he's three and doesn't care about money yet anyway. And I got my seed money back. :D (Venture Capitalist WIN!) Now, because the kids were raiding their piggy banks and wallets, I suspect there might have been some losses on the individual level, but the company made money, and that's all the accounting I was concerned with. (Probably if we were audited, some irregularities might be found.)

As for the freedom? The operated their lemonade stand without any problems. Apparently, while I was gone, one of the HOA board members came by and invited the kids to set up their business during a neighborhood event next weekend! So they booked another gig, how cool is that? :D

I'd explained to my older kids about Lemonade Freedom Day and what had happened down in South Georgia and how the reason I wanted to participate in this was to exercise our right to engage in free enterprise. Ryan was concerned about what might happen if the cops showed up. Once I reassured him that he would not be expected to pay any fines should it come to that, he was ready to participate!

I sincerely doubted any cops would show up and I'm very glad they didn't. (I still have no idea if the lemonade stand was legal or not, and I really don't care.) It's been suggested that it's not a real protest if the stand was legal, or if the cops didn't show up. I don't much agree with that. Even if legal or not shut down by the cops, it's standing up for an idea--albeit in a small tiny way--and that's the important part. It takes more courage to stand up for an idea when you know for a fact it's illegal, sure. But standing up for ideas at any time is still valuable, important, and necessary. So no, I'm not at all disappointed there wasn't a run-in with the cops.

The kids had an absolute blast planning, preparing, and running their business. I think they got a lot out of it (besides cookies and lemonade, I mean). I had lots of fun, too, because it's always fun when I get to explain Revenue - Cost = Profit. :D And it's always fun when I get to talk about Freedom.

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