Emma Mullen, 5, left, and Anna Mullen, 8, welcome customers to their lemonade stand July 4.

Emma Mullen, 5, left, and Anna Mullen, 8, welcome customers to their lemonade stand July 4.

Photo provided by Tiffany Mullen

A lemonade stand can be a hit with a little planning

By: Maria Allard | Metro | Published July 28, 2021


METRO DETROIT — Anna Mullen always wanted to have a lemonade stand.

This summer, she finally did it.

Anna, 8, and her sister Emma Mullen, 5, set up their first-ever lemonade stand July 4 while at the family’s cabin in Wolverine, Michigan. Their sweet business was a popular attraction during the holiday as people made their way to a fireworks show put on by a local family.

Whether from the driveway, garage or front sidewalk, lemonade stands are a summertime tradition. It’s a way for kids to earn extra money, stay busy, get to know their neighbors and help passersby cool off on a warm day. In some cases, people set up lemonade booths to raise money for charitable causes.

Both Anna and Emma, of Chesterfield Township, agreed that having their Independence Day lemonade sale was a blast.

“Because we had a lot of people,” Emma said.

With help from their mom, Tiffany Mullen, and aunt, Nina Wyatt, Anna and Emma put their good business sense to use when preparing for their sale. For starters, they made sure to have enough product for the crowd: two pitchers of old-fashioned lemonade and two filled with pink lemonade.

The girls displayed signs to promote their commodity and added sliced lemons as a garnish to each cup of their signature beverage. Once their tip jar and tablecloth were in place, the Mullen lemonade stand was open for business. At 25 cents per cup, the junior businesswomen welcomed  a steady stream of customers.

“I took the cup and I poured the lemonade and Emma gave it to the people. They said it was good and it was delicious,” Anna said. “They said, ‘Thank you.’ I did a really good job and so did Emma.”

At the end of the day, the sisters made $37. Emma plans to use her earnings to purchase new toys, while Anna will create a special area for her American Girl dolls.

There is a lot to think about when having a lemonade sale. Before getting started, check with the city or township to find out if a permit is needed. Good hygiene also is a must. Decide whether to make the lemonade or use store-bought. Advertising on a parent’s Facebook page or neighborhood group can help get the word out.

Macomb Community College business management professor Tanya Balcom, also the faculty-in-residence for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Macomb, offers a number of tips for budding entrepreneurs thinking about running a lemonade stand.

One piece of advice is to hold the sale on a day, such as Saturday, when people are generally home from work and more likely to see your sale. Have the sale in the late afternoon when potential customers might have more of a thirst as opposed to morning hours.

Balcom also suggested researching the times that people are outside the most, often watering the grass, riding their bikes or walking their dogs. That could be an ideal time to set up shop.

Balcom, also the owner of Scoop and Twist of Macomb in Macomb Township, recommends assigning a designated person to wave people over to the lemonade booth or advertise it with chalk on the sidewalk. Make sure the advertising signs and prices are written clearly.

“I would keep it simple. I think they should start off at a lower price and put it in a smaller cup,” Balcom said. That way, sellers can gauge the interest of their public. “I also think the price will depend on if you put fruit in it or mix iced tea and lemonade.”

Balcom also encourages sellers to chat with their patrons.

“Greet them with a smile. Ask them how their day is going. Make sure to thank them. Being very courteous will go a long way,” Balcom said.

Anyone thinking of holding a lemonade stand regularly might want to add a jingle to publicize their stand. Another idea is turning a cartwheel or ringing a bell after each sale.

To drum up business, young entrepreneurs should get out in the neighborhood beforehand so people begin to recognize them and will more likely visit their stand. A backup plan also is important for any unexpected circumstances such as weather issues. Balcom remembers having a lemonade stand when she was a kid and running out of lemonade. Since her grandfather was over at the time, he went to the store to buy some more. But don’t get discouraged if things don’t go as planned. Just “try something different next time,” Balcom said.

Grace Paniccia used those same skills for her recent sale. For the past three years, the 14-year-old Clinton Township resident has sold baked goods out of the family garage to raise money for Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. This year’s sale, held July 16, came during a heavy rainfall, but that didn’t dampen the event. Paniccia raised $500 for the hospital.

Those who stopped by had their pick from a selection that included pizza slices, brownies, fudge, doughnuts and dog treats. Lemon squares, chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies also were on the menu.

Everything was baked from scratch and sold for $1 each, with some cookies at two for $1. Family members helped Paniccia bake some of the goodies. Paniccia’s 16-year-old sister, Veronica Paniccia, helped with the sale.

Grace Paniccia, who will begin the ninth grade this fall at Regina High School in Warren, spent about 10 hours baking various items. The chocolate chip cookies were the most popular item.

“You should give yourself enough time, so you’re not rushing,” Paniccia said of planning ahead before a sale. “You should let people know and have a start time. It’s fun because I like to bake.”

Paniccia decided to help out the hospital because she was a patient there after being born prematurely.

“It’s nice to be able to know I helped a bit,” Paniccia said. “It’s for a good cause. I always like to help out with that.”