I’m beginning to think that there’s a nation-wide government conspiracy against either lemonade or children, because these lemonade stand shutdowns seem to be getting more and more common. If you set up a stand for your kids, just be prepared for a visit from the cops.
In Coralville, Iowa police shut down 4-year-old Abigail Krstinger’s lemonade stand after it had been up for half an hour. Dustin Krustinger told reporters that his daughter was selling lemonade at 25 cents a cup during the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Race Across Iowa (or RAGBRAI), and couldn’t have made more than five dollars, adding “If the line is drawn to the point where a four-year-old eight blocks away can’t sell a couple glasses of lemonade for 25 cents, than I think the line has been drawn at the wrong spot.”
Nearby, mother Bobbie Nelson had her kids’ lemonade stand shutdown as well. Police informed her that a permit would cost $400.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, police shutdown a lemonade stand run by three girls who were saving money to go to a water park. Police said the girls needed a business license, a peddler’s permit, and a food permit to operate the stand, which cost $50 per day or $180 per year each, sums that would quickly cut into any possible profit-margin.
In Appleton, Wisconsin the city council recently passed an ordinance preventing vendors from selling products within two blocks of local events – including kids who want to sell lemonade or cookies.
These are hardly isolated incidents. From slapping parents with $500 fines for letting their kids run unlicensed lemonade stands (though this was later waived after public outcry), to government officialscalling the cops on kids selling cupcakes, the list goes on and on and on.
Nor does it stop with kids. Food Trucks are also under the gun of regulators and city governmentsacross the country. This isn’t to say that food trucks don’t need any regulations at all, but many of the regulations that come down the pipeline are pushed by brick-and-mortar competitors who want to keep competition at a minimum.
But it’s the shutdown of lemonade stands that I find so inexplicable. Who stands to lose from a couple of six-year-olds selling lemonade? Who stands to gain from shutting them down? Do local governments really think parents are going to pay for $400 vendor permits, or that kids can scrape together the money for food permits? Are there any actual safety risks? Kids have been selling lemonade for decades without permits of any sort. They often set the stands up just for fun, but many lemonade stands (or bake sales) are used to raise money for schools, cancer, or sick pets. Lemonade stands represent the most innocent, optimistic side of capitalism out there.
Fortunately, August 20th is now unofficially National Lemonade Freedom Day, because when life gives you overbearing government regulations…make lemonade, or something.
A map of lemonade stand crackdowns can be found here. They’re spread out pretty much all across the country.
Hat tip to Radley Balko and the Reason team for many of these stories, so many of which sound like they’ve been pulled straight from The Onion.