Point of No Return: When life gives you lemons, get a permit for a stand

There are few things that scream out “Americana” more than the classic lemonade stand.  Except adults ruining things. That’s pretty “Americana,” as well.

But let’s start with the lemonade stand. In a nation that wears its capitalistic economy like a money-green badge of honor, the lemonade stand encapsulates all that is good about entrepenuership and enterprise. Seeing as how these stands are much more prevalent in the summer, the lemonade stand illustrates the concept of supply-and-demand. In the summer, people are often more in need of a cool refreshment, hence, a need exists. The kids who start these stands fill that need. That’s capitalism.

And, at its very core, the lemonade stand is about making money. The kids that start them often have a cause — wanting to buy a specific item, or go to an event or to raise money for a charity or benefit. Kids learn how to take their expenses into consideration and set a price point that will lead to profit — thus setting a course to reach an intended goal. That’s capitalism, as well.

And, it’s fun, right? The kids are doing something constructive outside that does not depend on WiFi or wireless controllers, they throw a few bucks in their pockets and they get to do something that’s fun. That has to count for something, right?

Cue up the sinister, bad-guy music now.

“My lemonade stand got shut down because I didn’t have a permit,” said Autumn Thomasson, a 6-year-old California girl. “It was unfair.” That quote, which I came across in the Washington Post on Tuesday, June 12, was first aired on a Legal-Ade video.

What exactly is Legal-Ade? Well, thank you for asking. Country Time has established Legal-Ade to help reimburse young entrepeneuers who had to pay fines for operating a lemonade stand without a permit. 

“We heard a couple of these stories happening and frankly, didn’t believe that they were real,” said Adam Butler, general manager for beverages and nuts for Kraft Heinz, the parent company of Country Time. “You look into it and, wow, this is actually real. We huddled up and decided we’ve got to do something about this.”

Oh, it’s very real.

A CNN.com article told the story of two Denver brothers who got their charity-driven lemonade stand shut down because they didn’t have a permit. Two sisters in Texas were shut down for not having a permit or health department approval. Over in Maryland, our neighbors just to the south, the fines for a permitless stand have reached $500.

For selling lemonade. For kids selling lemonade. A lemonade stand. Think about this.

Country Time is planning on reimbursing these kids until Aug. 31, or until $60,000 has been awarded, according to the Post article. They will not be providing any legal advice or services, and have pledged to donate $1 to help kids in the future for every retweet of their Legal-Ade promotional video. As of Tuesday morning, according to the Post, they had garnered 93,000 retweets. 

This is smart marketing by Country Time by the way — which is another shining example of capitalism. They’re setting themselves to come across as the good guy, swooping in to defend the youth of America and building up a trunk-load of good will across the nation. Plus, they’re fighting for more of their product to be sold, plain and simple.

If it seems that this entire story is a little bit ridiculous, it’s because it is. Look, I get the need for regulation and oversight. We’ve proven as a species that if we are not being watched at all times, we will not behave. And there is public safety to consider, as well, if there isn’t a set of standards — think of the recent E. coli breakout in lettuce or the Tylenol scare in 1982.

But kids selling lemonade? Let’s use our heads on this one.

Of course, that isn’t the only crazy law on the books. We’ve all seen the random laws shared online or on television shows stating that nobody can ride a horse while strumming a ukelele on the third Tuesday of any month with less than six letters in its name (I completely made this up). And, 2018 being 2018, there is a website called dumblaws.com. Of course I paid it a visit.

The first local one I came across was an ordinance in Fenwick Island that bans people from laying down on the beach at night. A quick look at the Town’s code says it is indeed unlawful to lay down on any public beach in town between midnight and 8 a.m. Sounds funny, right? Anybody ever seen that big gnarly machine that cleans the beach at night? Anyone want to get caught underneath it? Yeah, nothing to see here. 

Let’s try Rehoboth Beach, where we find: “No person shall sleep, lie or occupy as a sleeping quarter, or under the guise of pretending to sleep on the boardwalk, any bench located on the boardwalk in any pavilion located at the end of any street or on any bench located on any street.”

 Did Rehoboth once have a problem with people pretending to sleep on the boardwalk? Why have I never heard this story?

One really odd law that was on the books in Delaware from 1929 until 1996, according to Widener Law Blog, was, “It is illegal to fly over any body of water, unless one is carrying sufficient supplies of food and drink.”

Yeah, that flight over Lums Pond is practically trans-Atlantic, right? I mean, outside of that puddle to the east, what is a big enough body of water to warrant this law? And, does lemonade count? 

By Darin J. McCann
Executive Editor