Marketing Lemonade: A Lesson in Business

Two weeks ago, I became a Venture Capitalist. Yes, I provided
all the working capital and assets for a company called

The Lemonade Stand,

or, as I privately call it,

The Omigod Can’t You Do Something Other Than Sell Lemonade Today

Two weeks ago, I became a Venture Capitalist. Yes, I provided all the working capital and assets for a company called “The Lemonade Stand,” or, as I privately call it, “The Omigod Can’t You Do Something Other Than Sell Lemonade Today Stand.”

For the past two weeks, Junior and four friends have done nothing – and I mean nothing – other than sell lemonade to the neighbors. And I suspect that many of them are as sick of it as I am.

It started out innocently enough. One day while scouring the pantry for something edible, the kids found a large can of powered lemonade mix hidden behind two jars of mini dill pickles and a can of tuna from the 80s.

Well, you would have thought they’d struck gold. They jumped around the kitchen, yelling something about money and lemonade stands and the suckers they had for neighbors. At least I think that’s what they said.

After we discussed the banning of the word “suckers,” the kids realized that like all good entrepreneurs, they had no money to start their business. That’s when I became a Venture Capitalist. Yep, I willingly provided the paper towels, cups and all the other junk they needed. No, I’m not a good mom. I just wanted them out of the pantry.

The kids set up a table in the driveway and mixed up their first batch of lemonade – which looked a bit watery and weak. But after numerous taste tests they decided that this was the best lemonade EVER and worth $5 a cup.

Yeah, I know. The entrepreneurs were headed for their first lesson. They didn’t know their market. Nobody on earth – least of all the other kids on the street – would pay $5 a cup. So they lowered their price to a buck and started an intense marketing campaign I like to call “The Puppy Dog Pout.”

Basically, the puppy dog pout consists of Junior knocking on a door, batting his big brown eyes and pouting slightly as he tells a tale of how he and his friends really, really NEED the money from the lemonade stand and that they would be eternally grateful if the person at the door would just buy one little cup from them.

Shockingly, this was an awesome marketing campaign. Even I bought a cup of lemonade. And I paid full price. Yes, I paid full price for my own lemonade, mixed in my own pitcher and served in my own plastic cup sold to me by my very own son with a full-on puppy dog pout that up until then I have been able to resist.

What the heck was I thinking? Actually, what the heck were all the neighbors thinking? For pete’s sake, most of them are parents – you’d think they’d be able to stand firm against the puppy dog pout. But they couldn’t. And that’s why the entire neighborhood has been buying really awful lemonade for the past two weeks.

Oh sure, around Day 6, people were tired of buying plastic cups of lemon-flavored water. They stopped answering their doors the minute they saw the lemonade stand being set up in my driveway after school.

But that didn’t stop the entrepreneurs. They switched to Tang and hired a new salesperson. They conned the littlest and cutest girl on the street to go door-to-door and beg people to buy Tang. And this is the best part – they wouldn’t pay her or share their profits with her – but they would give her a free glass of Tang. I’m telling you, I was jealous. I hadn’t gotten anything for free, and I was funding the entire operation.

But the cutie had a little problem. Seems she would ring the doorbells then become overwhelmed with a fit of shyness, which would make her flee the porch right

before the door was answered. So instead of selling Tang, she perfected the fine art of doorbell ditch. And she also had a habit of licking her fingers, then sticking them in the Tang powder and eating it. Even the entrepreneurs were a little grossed out by that.

So Junior went back to selling. And although business has slowed – most of the neighbors close their blinds and lock their doors the minute school gets out – they’re still making money.

Yeah, I have a weakness for Tang. After all, they’ve finally decided to give me a 20 percent discount as long as I reuse my cup. And 10 glasses of Tang a day can’t be really bad for you, can it?

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