Lemonade Stand Tips: Top 7 Tips for Success

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Six-year-old Jackson Parks raised $15,800 at his charitable lemonade stand. Photo courtesy of Jordan Parks.

Tart or sweet, lemonade sells. Especially when stirred and poured by a cute and industrious neighborhood kid.

Kid-run lemonade stands have endured for a reason: they're easy to set up, cheap to run, and the profit margins are high. Any 10-year-old can do it. But some do it with a twist, putting their own personal stamp on the venture. Here are ways some kids have tailored their endeavors to fit the occasion:

1. Give it away for free. That's what Doug Mades of Newburyport, Mass., did and it paid off in spades. An only child with an introverted bent, his parents thought setting up a lemonade stand would help him meet more people while also garnering him valuable business lessons. Doug's father, Dan Mades, tells ParentDish in a phone interview that it was about the experience, not the money: "It's the best lemonade that money can't buy."


But that didn't stop people from giving him tips or donations. Doug first set out at age 6 with a gallon of homemade lemonade and due to his early success, continued most summer weekends for the next five years. He is now 15 years old and retired from his lemonade-stand enterprise, but the money he made over that time is sitting pretty in a certificate of deposit, accruing interest for his college years. According to his father, Doug made more than just a few hundred dollars. "What Doug was able to save in his Certificate of Deposit is more on the order of a year's college tuition."

2. Appeal to the community.
Six-year-old Jackson Parks of Rock Hill, Mo., set up a lemonade stand this April to help Matt Crosby, a local police officer who was critically injured in the line of duty, pay his medical bills. That made his purpose tangible and relevant to his neighbors. People wanted to help this little boy help this officer and of course they wanted to help the officer too. Case in point: Rock Hill's mayor, Julie Morton, bought a glass for $50. It's a win-win-win all around.

3. Diversify your wares.
Calista Pierce started out with lemonade but quickly realized the ubiquitous thirst-quencher might not be enough to realize her personal goal of raising $6,000 for the Crawford County Special Olympics. Her mission, like Jackson Parks, is to raise money for someone in need. That person is her brother, Austin, who navigates life in a wheelchair as a result of progressive muscular dystrophy. Calista makes and sells various crafts including leaf necklaces, angel pins, wish pennies and Christmas ornaments, with nothing costing more than $5.

Jackson Parks and his bucket of good will.
Photo courtesy of Jordan Parks.

4. Harness the power of social media. Jackson's lemonade stand collected $15,800 in three hours. That's quite a feat. "We never imagined we'd make that much," says his mom, Jordan Parks, who credits Facebook for helping to get the word out.
When he first heard that Matt, a family friend and colleague of his police officer father Bill Parks, was paralyzed from the waist down, Jackson immediately told his mom he wanted to set up a lemonade stand for him.

What started out as a card table in the driveway soon morphed into something much larger thanks to the vast response and viral activity of the Facebook page. "It got a little crazy and we thought, 'We can't have this in our driveway anymore,'" says his mom in a phone interview with ParentDish. So they moved the lemonade stand to a nearby parking lot to accommodate all the other donated goods and services including: a Sno-Cone truck, bouncy house, firetruck, police helicopter flyover, police horse and a man who brought lizards and such to create a "reptile experience" for the kids to squeal and squirm in delight.

5. Don't divulge your secret recipe.
Doug didn't. But now that he's moved on to other pursuits (playing trumpet and piano are two of his favorite pastimes), he's sort of willing to share with other would-be entrepreneurs. According to his dad, the basic recipe can be found online in many places, but he and Doug modified it by using less sugar to ensure it had as much tartness and snap as people could stand. "The secret part was probably the lemon to lime juice ratio, which for Doug was magic at 6:1," says his dad.

6. Quality counts.
Doug's lemonade was so good that he even got an unsolicited write-up on the renowned foodie site Chowhound. To wit, the highly impressed imbiber wrote, "We noticed him huddled under an umbrella during a downpour and just had to stop to buy some lemonade. His dad [was] there too, and they couldn't have been nicer. Brought the cup over to the car in the rain for us. But here's the thing -- it was the BEST, freshest lemonade I've had in years. Really tart, lots of fresh lemon pulp, obviously homemade and not from a mix, not too sweet. My chowhound self was really impressed." At the end of his post he gave explicit directions on how to find the stand.

7. Accept alternate forms of payment.
Some of Doug's regulars were aware of his avid coin-collecting hobby and often paid with unusual coins, state quarters he didn't yet have or sometimes even foreign money. One woman used to give him books and another gave him a scholarship to a summer program called Workshop in the Woods. A member of the Coast Guard gave him a t-shirt and plastic football. Like Doug's father said, it was about the experience, not the money. And yet, ka-ching for college was a nice byproduct.

Related: Top 10 Ways To Succeed at a Summer Internship

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.