…which is really a war of well-connected using statutes against small vendors…The Gilson Reform points out that regulation is there to enable graft. The US is supposedly the relative champion of free markets, but local activists are battling disturbing attempts to apply regulations designed for large companies to shut down small vendors down to little girls selling tradiotional lemonade in their front yards, threatening enormous fines. Libertarians at REASON and LI teams have been tracking and exposing the problem and getting councils to reverse course to also allow innovative e.g. gourmet food trucks.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, police shutdown a lemonade stand run by three girls who were saving money to go to a water park. Police said the girls needed a business license, a peddler’s permit, and a food permit to operate the stand, which cost $50 per day or $180 per year each, sums that would quickly cut into any possible profit-margin.
In Appleton, Wisconsin the city council recently passed an ordinance preventing vendors from selling products within two blocks of local events – including kids who want to sell lemonade or cookies.
These are hardly isolated incidents. From slapping parents with $500 fines for letting their kids run unlicensed lemonade stands (though this was later waived after public outcry), to government officials calling the cops on kids selling cupcakes, the list goes on and on and on.
Nor does it stop with kids. Food Trucks are also under the gun of regulators and city governments across the country. This isn’t to say that food trucks don’t need any regulations at all, but many of the regulations that come down the pipeline are pushed by brick-and-mortar competitors who want to keep competition at a minimum.
But it’s the shutdown of lemonade stands that I find so inexplicable. Who stands to lose from a couple of six-year-olds selling lemonade? Who stands to gain from shutting them down? Do local governments really think parents are going to pay for $400 vendor permits, or that kids can scrape together the money for food permits? Are there any actual safety risks? Kids have been selling lemonade for decades without permits of any sort. They often set the stands up just for fun, but many lemonade stands (or bake sales) are used to raise money for schools, cancer, or sick pets. Lemonade stands represent the most innocent, optimistic side of capitalism out there.
Fortunately, August 20th is now unofficially National Lemonade Freedom Day, because when life gives you overbearing government regulations…make lemonade, or something.
A map of lemonade stand crackdowns can be found here. They’re spread out pretty much all across the country.