Star Wars Lemonade
Vermont is known for a lot of things: Ben & Jerry’s, Maple Syrup, Phish, Burton Snowboards and, as of late, Bernie Sanders. A hotbed of capitalism is not exactly one of them.
As is often the case in life, the stereotypes of the Vermont business climate are inaccurate. Besides Vermont being a great place to start a software company, it turns out lemonade stands do pretty well here too.
Jack, my five-year-old, has been asking to sell lemonade for a while because I said if he wants Star Wars Lego sets, he needs to use his own money. I can’t take credit for this ultimatum. It’s the same one my parents gave me when I asked them to help fund my baseball card collection in the 1980s.
My offhand suggestion was taken seriously. Like most parents, I finally succumbed to his persistence. We set up shop at the corner of South Willard and Cliff Street. This prime location includes a four-way stop sign, sits in a residential area along a well-traveled corridor (Route 7) and has steady foot traffic of folks coming through Champlain College. It turns out the Sunday of the University of Vermont Graduation, was a pretty good time to set up a lemonade stand for 75 cents a cup. We also added fresh baked cookies to the menu for 75 cents each.
Jack was joined by my college roommate’s son, William, who brought his impressive 3rd-grade math skills which were much needed when it came to calculating change. Together they carried the lemonade, cookies, ice, cups, an accordion for musical entertainment, and a wicker table with signage, which was once owned by my grandmother, Adele, who was one of the top Realtors on the north shore of Chicago in the 1960s. They got out there around 1:30 – by 4 pm, they had grossed $101!
As you can well imagine, the whole thing went a little too well. After paying back their cost of goods, which now has my car is stacked with enough quarters to pay the parking meters for a few months, they netted $86.10. Thankfully, William, who is 9, has a bank account. I asked him how much of his money he was planning to put in his account and he initially decided on $23 (half his haul by his calculation was the intention, again it’s 3rd-grade math here). Upon further reflection, William then started to up the deposit ante because, as he explained to Jack: when you put it in the bank, you get more back. Jack got particularly excited about the concept of compounding interest and was ready to put all his money in the bank; until I explained it would take a long time for it to grow enough for an even bigger Lego set.
The next day, we went to Target and Jack bought, with his own money, the Darth Vader Lego set we researched together. The following Friday, my father and I brought Jack to Citizens Bank to open a bank account and deposit $23. When asked by his banker, Kim, “what’s the name of your business?” Jack responded “Star Wars Lemonade”.
I guess it’s never too early to start the next generation of entrepreneurs.