Thursday, October 13, 2011

When Life Hands You Lemons...

(or a container of Country Time crystals....), set up a lemonade stand....

That's what Ethan did on Tuesday. Somehow he got it into his head to start up his own business (it could be the influence of his entrepreneurial friend, Livi, who at 5 and a half is her neighborhood's go-to dog walker, cat feeder, plant waterer extraordinaire--complete with her own marketing department) and selling icy cold beverages on the corner of our block is what struck his fancy. I'm relieved he didn't ask Husband and I for a food truck of some sort to serve his lemony elixers out of, because he's been watching a LOT of the Great Food Truck Race or whatever it's called on Food TV.

Thankfully he was content with a pared down operation of just his IKEA art table, a hand-printed sign beckoning thirty travelers and a couple of plastic jugs of lemonade. He did, at one point, insist on serving said lemonade with a Twizzler "straw" but mercifully he forgot about that little touch of je ne sais quoi after I completely spaced buying the Twizzlers along with the rest of the accoutrements.

So after school on Tuesday, we set up the stand to coincide with the dismissal time of the elementary school down the street. Oh, idyllic suburbia, how I love to hear the sound of the school bells ringing umpteen times a day from 1/4 mile away. Its like having my own little 50 minute alarm clock from the hours of 8am-3pm. You know, so I can keep track of how much time I am wasting each day, in neat little 50 minute intervals. Very helpful indeed.

While Ethan sat patiently at his lemonade stand, eagerly awaiting his first $.25, I ripped into the bags of faux-spider webs & squishy plastic spiders to drape across the shrubbery in the front yard. Because that's what you do in California in October---you celebrate the season of falling leaves and ghouls by sweating your ass off decorating for Halloween. In the 85+ degree heat. Somehow, I would envision a hot apple cider stand at this time of year, call me crazy. But no, lemonade. With lots of ice.

Slowly parents started to make their way towards the school to walk their kiddies home. Remember walking home from school? In first grade? Alone? Yeah, not anymore. Because apparently suburbia is also crawling with child-snatching lunatics. I recently read an article about the criteria for "first grade readiness" in the 1970's--one of the benchmarks was whether your child is able to walk 4-8 blocks on their own without getting lost. Um. Yeah, we live ONE block from Ethan's best friend and I'm still not comfortable letting him walk that on his own. Thank you, 21st century paranoia; I'm looking at you, Nancy Farking Grace.

As parents approached, Ethan decided on a "yell at potential customers" marketing approach by announcing at full volume that he had "LEMONADEFORSAAAAALE!!!" in case the sign that said "Lemonade" and the two 2-gallon jugs of lemonade on his table were not enough of an indication. Good sports, each and every one, they smiled and said they would be back, many of them saying, "Oh, I wish I had some money with me! I'd love some!" as they sauntered on towards the school.

After hearing this "I don't have any money on me" reason a few times, Ethan decided to conserve his booming sales pitch until he got a sense of what he was working with---the next parent who passed by was not greeted by his town-crier-esque announcement about his lemonade, but a question about her financial liquidity. "DO YOU HAVE ANY MONEY????" he asked the mom passing by, and 15 feet away, I threw about 10 plastic spiders in the air in horror. Thankfully, she laughed and said that no, she didn't, but once she picked up her kids, they would walk home and get some.

"Ethan!!! Honey, don't ask people for money!!! Offer them the lemonade!" How charming that I had to caution my child against pan-handling on the corner of our block. Winning!

Finally a steady stream of sweaty elementary kids and their parents came filing past the stand and Ethan's business was hopping. With two sizes to choose from, we were doling out small and large cups of lemonade for $.25 and $.50 a pop, some with ice, some without. Considering the 2-gallon jugs were too heavy for Ethan to pour, and that he has no idea how to make change, it was basically my lemonade stand, but his cute-factor is definitely what brought in the uber-generous tips (seriously--someone gave us a $5 for a $.50 cup of Country Time lemonade).

After the rush elementary kids was over, we were left with only one small cup of lemonade left, which we split between us (guys, Country Time is nasty), and $30. Not too shabby for one hour's worth of work.

Ethan's already started planning his next lemonade stand--he wants to make a LOT more lemonade so that we can also handle the middle school crowd that lets out 30 minutes or so after the elementary school. He wants to add the option of some sort of berry or pink lemonade ("maybe we can even put real strawberries in the lemonade!!!"), and next time he hopes that I've found his cash register in our moving boxes so he can use it for each and every transaction.

Watch for us on Food TV--The Next Great Lemonade Stand competition. He's got it in the bag.

"Do you have any money???!!!!"

"Come on, you know you've got some money....."

"I'll give you some lemonade for some money!!!!!!"

Oh, that bandaid on his chin? Yeah, I'll tell you about that next time.


cicadalady said...

love it. so cute.

lonek8 said...

love that he is already expanding the idea of the business with new flavors etc. A true entrepreneur you've got there

Becca said...

So sweet! I walked a LONG way to school when I was six. And I was in charge of my five year old sister! I think I'll be secretly walking half a black behind Charlie until he's doing his postdoc.