My blogging pal Kisatrtle at Kisatrtle’s Kreative Korner has a great series of posts during the school year where she posts Lessons from the Lunchlady. During the summer, she shares her Lessons Learned At The Pool. (And just the other day she shared Lessons Learned At the Gynecologist.) I thought I’d
shamelessly steal pay homage to these posts by writing about the lessons I learned while supervising a lemonade stand for BB and his friends the other day.
- If your staff exceeds your customers by a ratio of 9:1, bickering amongst the staff for the “good jobs” will become fierce and intense. We started out with a staff of five, which was manageable (but still a bit bloated). Two kids manned the actual lemonade table, with the sixth grader being in charge of the money. The other table person poured the drinks. The other kids were staffed with advertising and promotion duties with signs (which I made out of neon poster board and rulers). We agreed to rotate staff every 15 minutes or so. From the start, the “table job” was perceived as the “good job.” However, one staffer proved too clumsy to work the table after almost knocking it down twice and spilling a few glasses of the product. A second staffer had a suspicious cough and was banned by the Health Inspector (moi!) from handling the product. That left BB and another girl to duke it out for table duties. They worked well together at first, but things started to get heated as time went by. When other kids arrived to help out (at one point increasing the staff to an unruly and unmanageable 10 kids), competition for the table job got even more intense, which resulted in excessive whining, screaming (some by me) and threats of banishment.
- Middle school boys who have crushes on female staffers will buy up to five glasses of lemonade each just for a chance to hang out at the stand. The oldest staffer is going into middle school in the fall, and I think her parents better watch out because two middle school boys were our best customers and I don’t think it was lemonade they were after. It was kind of cute to watch this “puppy love” in action.
- It is very hard for adults to resist a bunch of kids running a lemonade stand. Almost everyone who drove by stopped and bought a few cups. And more than a few simply made “donations” to the cause without taking a drink. In addition, almost everyone paid more than the 50 cent asking price. It was touching to see, and the kids were amazed that people would “just give us money.” Greed quickly went to their heads though, and cries of “We can do this every day!!!” were heard. I assured them that it was cute one day but would become tiresome and bothersome if they did it every day. Still, it made me feel good about our neighborhood to watch these harried working folks coming home and stopping to buy an overpriced cup of lemonade or just drop a dollar in the kitty.
- Eight quarts of lemonade is not enough for a lemonade stand that is open for 1.5 hours. The stand was open from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm and it wasn’t a particularly hot day. I bought a can of Country Time that made 8 quarts of lemonade—thinking this would be more than enough. Turns out, we were barely able to fill cups at the end. Of course, excessive spills and staff embezzlement were a factor, but I was very surprised to find that eight quarts was not enough.
- Second-going-into-third-graders have a shaky grasp of money issues. One customer (one of the staffer’s dads—parental units made up a large part of the customer base) paid with a $10 bill and got $9 back in change. Yet the kids persisted in saying that “Mr. Frank gave us $10!!! We’re rich! We got $10 for a glass of lemonade!!” We tried to explain that he didn’t pay $10 for his lemonade but the sight of the $10 bill was too much for them to handle. I felt bad because later on, one mom paid $8 for her lemonade but it went unnoticed because she paid with $1s.
- Exuberant children who don’t have a good grasp of safety issues shouldn’t be allowed to work “advertising and promotion.” This child repeatedly ran out in the street in front of cars to promote the stand. Of course, this was also the clumsy staffer who was banned from the table so it caused a bit of stress on the adult supervisor who had to keep an eye on him while also listening to other staff complaints (“Why don’t I get to work the table? Why don’t I get to work the table? When will I get to work at the table? When will I get to work the table? Why does she get to work the table so long? Why can’t I work the table now?) I must confess (and I feel bad about saying this), but I was relieved when a major scrape from a pavement mishap sent him inside to get patched up for 15 minutes.
- Kids will fight to the death if they think they are being ripped off from the profits. The closing of the stand, counting of the money and distribution of profits was extremely intense. After taking out my business start-up fees of $11, they had $37 to split amongst themselves. Tired after dealing with these children since 1:00 pm (which is when most arrived at my house to begin asking “When are we doing the lemonade stand? every five minutes), I delegated the money distribution to another mom. I was so glad I did because, despite her clearly counting out the same amount of money to everyone, kids were still grumbling that “So and so got more than me!” My own son was one of the grumblers and had to have it pointed out to him that he got the same amount of money as everyone else and he was mixing up his nickels and quarters!
- I will not be heading up the next kid money-making
scamventure. By the closing of the stand, I was pooped. The kids—high on the thrills of capitalism—were thinking of their next money-making event. The words “car wash” were bandied about—to which I said “Hell no. If you want to do a car wash, you’ll have to get Mr. Frank to run it.” Somehow, I doubt the car wash will be happening any time soon. If it does, however, I’ll be sure to share all the lessons learned as I observe from my lawn chair in the shade.