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How Difficult Is It to Set up a Lemonade Stand?

Life used to be a lot simpler. Drag a card table out to the curb, paint a sign, and stir up a pitcher full of lemonade. Then you were in business, possibly able to make enough money to buy a coveted toy, or packs of baseball cards. Today, though, only 14 states in the U.S. allow such an independent endeavor. Instead of learning the basics of commerce -- including the concepts of profit, supply and demand, and teamwork -- kids in the other 36 states must apply and pay for a business permit first. In a few high-profile cases, authorities have even shut down rogue lemonade stands and levied fines.

Making money the old-fashioned way:

  • Official intervention doesn’t happen often, but a mother in Overton, Texas, tried to do the right thing in 2015. When she tried to get a permit for her child’s lemonade stand, she was told she’d have to have her kitchen inspected first.

  • The lemonade company Country Time saw the problem as a marketing opportunity, and established a “Legal-Aide” campaign in 2019 to help kids pay for permits, and cover the cost of any municipal fines.

  • The company says lemonade stands are currently legal only in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Illinois, Missouri, Louisiana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California.

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