For many kids, selling lemonade is their first taste of entrepreneurship. One Florida man isn’t so keen on having them in his neighborhood, however—and wants one particular stand shut down.
T.J. Guerrero, a 12-year-old in Dunedin, Florida, has been selling lemonade for months at a small stand in his family’s quiet residential neighborhood. He’s tested several locations and hours of operations in order to establish his business. One neighbor even let him pitch a sign in his yard advertising his lemonade-selling operation.
“It’s all about profit,” Guerrero told the Tampa Bay Times. Guerrero also mows lawns for extra cash, allowing him to buy an iPod and pay for cellphone bills, trips with his grandfather and dinners with his mother.
Though Guerrero’s ambition may sound like a parent’s dream, one neighbor is annoyed by the lemonade stand and has repeatedly asked the city to shut it down. Doug Wilkey has emailed city officials at least four times over the past year arguing that the lemonade stand is an “illegal business” and causes excessive noise, traffic and trash and illegal parking.
Wilkey said that Guerrero’s friends hang out around the lemonade stand with their skateboards, use profanity and throw rocks. He wrote that once a kid rode his bike into the back of Wilkey’s parked truck, causing damage.
“Please help me regain my quiet home and neighborhood,” wrote 61-year-old Wilkey, who lives four doors down from Guerrero. In another email, he wrote: “If this were a once a year event by a couple kids to earn a little money for a holiday or something, I would not have a problem with it,” adding: “I am very worried about the value of my home, which is why I built in a residential area, not a business area.”
Wilkey also warned officials that the city could get in trouble if someone got ill after drinking the lemonade, the Times reported.
Greg Rice, director of planning and development for Dunedin, says the city has no plans to shut down Guerrero’s operations. "We're not in the business of trying to regulate kids like that, nor do we want to do any code enforcement like that. We are not out there trying to put lemonade stands out of business."
A community police officer even polled other neighbors in Guerrero’s neighborhood and found that they were fine with the 10 to 30 customers that the lemonade stand gets on the average day.
“I had [a lemonade stand] when I was a little kid,” 24-year-old neighbor Vincent Titara told the Times. “We all did. I think it's cute.”
The debate over Guerrero’s lemonade stand certainly isn’t the first. Several cities and police departments have cracked down on lemonade stands in recent years, either outlawing them or requiring that they get expensive permits and licenses, according to a 2011 Forbes article.
The controversy over lemonade stands has even led to the creation of Lemonade Freedom, an online campaign fighting for the rights of young lemonade vendors. There's even a national day, Lemonade Day (August 20), devoted to encouraging kids to sell lemonade as a way to learn about entrepreneurship.
“The lemonade stand is one of the great symbols of entrepreneurialism,” Lemonade Freedom says on its web site. “When a child opens a lemonade stand, that child is learning how to operate a business, how to provide a product, and how to be a productive member of society all while having fun."
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