What they didn’t teach you in Harvard business school

Since the weather is beginning to get a little more summery (at least where I am–I don’t care about where you are), neighborhood children are putting on their little entrepreneurial hats, dragging out the Fischer Price tables, and selling some lemonade.

Wait, there's a lemon behind that rock!

This little neighbor kid Wyatt (ugh…just ugh), the one who has referred to me as the “scary lady,” was having a little lemonade stand with his ever-watchful father present and standing behind him like a bouncer. Though cosmically, the 20ish year age difference (oh CHRIST I’m OLD) isn’t very much, the generational difference with respect to lemonade stand methodology could not have been more apparent.

Allow me to paint you a word-picture: this kid was proudly displaying two cartons of Minute Maid lemonade and charging 0.50 for a shot glass of the stuff (a Dixie Cup is the same as a shot glass right? I mean, we’ve all been there). So yeah, I bought a glass (mostly to appease the father), and tossed that shit back like tequila. It was warm. Very unsatisfying. If I were to yelp it, my review would not have been favorable, and those things can make or break a business. Take pride in your business, Wyatt!

Ugh

Anyway, back before I was lemonade grandstanding (see what I did thurr?), I had my own lemonade stands. Some were successful, though admittedly this was before the recession hit. Long story short (too late), I learned the ins and outs of the business:

  1. You may be cute, but cuteness don’t pay the rent. Customers may buy the first glass to appease the doe-eyed hellspawn, but the PRODUCT keeps them coming back for more.
  2. Have the DECENCY to pretend that the stuff was home-made. Have a pitcher with ice cubes and everything. Displaying your cartons of Minute Maid is just so…gauche. Sure, I didn’t mix lemon juice with sugar and water–I was too young to figure out the perfect ratio. And yeah, my trusty old Country Time powder had never even been in close proximity to a real lemon, but at least I added in the water and stirred.
  3. Add ice. Lots of ice. People are buying this stuff because it’s hot out, so make sure to add enough ice without the stuff getting watered down. It’s worth the effort.
  4. Your parent should not be standing near you, staring neighbors down like the eye of Sauron. Can’t rely on daddy forever, kiddo. And if someone tried to kidnap you, throw lemonade in his eyes.
  5. The price should match the product. I guess I don’t know how inflation has affected today’s lemonade stands, but 50 cents for a Dixie Cup seems off. I needs those quarters to feed parking meters.
I hope Wyatt doesn’t represent a growing trend in today’s lemonade stands, because frankly, I don’t have the patience to put up with all this childish half-assery.

(On a tangentially related note, I remember my last lemonade stand. I was in fifth grade and my friend and I set up a little stand outside of her house. We sat there all afternoon and only sold one cup–to her mother. That was the day we discovered that we weren’t adorable anymore.)

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