UPDATE: Our young entrepreneurs, after moving their stand off the corner to avoid traffic, were permitted to re-open, and the county waived the fine. And, as usual, there was a bit more to the story. Apparently the rule was instituted to prevent rampant booth-building all over the sidewalks and the kids were considered just another example. Now, though, peace prevails in Bethesda.
As school wraps up for the year, many children may be thinking of starting their own mini-busineses. Whether it is babysitting, mowing lawns or setting up a lemonade stand, summer vacation offers many opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. But for some, the business lessons learned could be costly.
The US Open golf tournament was held this week in Bethesda, Maryland. Many nearby residents used this as an opportunity to make a little bit of extra money. Some of them rented out parking spaces on their property. Others, like the children in the Marriot and Augustine families, set up lemonade stands to offer refreshments to those who passed by.
According to Yahoo! News, the parents of the Marriot and Augustine children were issued a fine of $500 by a Montgomery County inspector for operating a lemonade stand without a vendor’s permit. Apparently the county is not planning to issue fines to every single lemonade vendor. They argued that they take the size of the operation into account before deciding whether to issue a fine and that a child making $5 or $10 is different from children earning hundreds of dollars.
These children, who were planning to give half of the profits to a pediatric cancer charity are disappointed and frustrated. One of their mothers, Carrie Marriott, said that it is sending the children the message that there is no American dream.
This isn’t the first time that budding young entrepreneurs have been slapped with a fine for selling lemonade. According to CBS News, the same thing happened in 2010 when 7-year-old Julie Murphy failed to get a $120 temporary restaurant license for her lemonade stand. According to the CBS article, “Technically, any lemonade stand — even one on your front lawn — must be licensed under state law.”
In this case however, officials added that they were unlikely to go after every kid who set up a lemonade stand. In this case, the fact that Julie Murphy was set up in a prominent area during a public event (despite the fact that her lemonade stand was on her front lawn), meant that she was singled out.
What does this mean for child entrepreneurs? If they may or may not get a fine, won’t that scare children (and their parents) away from starting up mini-businesses? Perhaps a different category of permit or other type of permission should exist for kids who want to give their entrepreneurial skills a try on a weekend here and there or on a few sunny summer afternoons.
These businesses are such a great learning opportunity for children. There must be a way to allow them to pursue their dreams and test out running a business without making it prohibitive. Got any ideas? Tell us in comments!
Image credit: Rochelle, just rochelle on flickr