Lemonade stands: Not the ideal pitcher of capitalism

The image of a kid sitting behind a make-shift store front. A pitcher of lemonade and a sign that reads "50 cents." Can it be a child's first lesson in the world of business?

Apparently not, at least for some. In her article for Slate, "Down with Lemonade Stands," writer Michal Lemberger says that there is value to a lemonade stand, just not a capitalistic one.

"My children who are out there for 20 minutes, before their shop closed up for the year," says Lemberger. "They were for that brief moment the hub of the social experience of that corner. And that's valuable. But they don't really have a sense of the value of money the way we do."

In Slate, Lemberger writes:
One woman stopped her car, rolled down the window, handed over a dollar, and then refused to take the plastic Solo cup offered to her. An older couple out for a stroll bought a round for three twentysomething strangers who were already on their way to the corner 7-Eleven to get change. The pitchers were empty by the time the three guys got back, but one of them handed my daughter three bucks anyway. And not a single person who bought lemonade from my children would take the change owed them.
Rather than teaching kids the harsh reality of capitalist competition, the lemonade stand is much more a social lesson.

"They're learning that somebody will give them money if they're six and cute," Lemberger says.

AUDIO EXTRA: Lemberger explains where lemonade stands came from:



About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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