When Life Gives You Lemons, Get a Permit, an Inspection, Insurance…and Make Lemonade
Little Anabelle Lockwood has the spirit of an entrepreneur. When the 10 year old Orange County, California resident wanted to make some money, she decided to take an old-fashioned route. She started a lemon-aid stand. And then, as often happens to self-employed people in America, it all went downhill when the government got involved.
How it all began…
Anabelle said she came up with the idea for a lemonade stand while brainstorming with friends. “It’s my great grandmother’s lemonade recipe. Everyone loves it.”
Her dad made her a sweet wooden stand, and the young entrepreneur opened up shop outside of her house.
The fifth-grader and her friends sold lemonade for $1 to $2.50, plus an extra $1 for a shot of homemade flavored syrup. She made enough money to buy a new bike.
“It got her outside and off the computer,” Anabelle’s mother, Chanel Rene. said.
Word of Anabelle’s delicious lemonade spread around the neighborhood, and business was booming…until The Fun Police interfered.
A “grumpy neighbor” complained to the homeowners association, and the lemonade stand was shut down, Chanel Rene, Anabelle’s mother told The Orange County Register.
So the enterprising girl came up with a work-around
Rene sought out a few local shops willing to let Anabelle sell outside for three-hour stints.
Nicole Zimmet welcomed Anabelle to sell lemonade at her salon, The Ivy, in the Callens Corner Shopping Center.
“All my clients were buying Anabelle’s amazing lemonade,” Zimmet said. “She’s a crackup – very professional, like a little adult. She explains to everyone how she makes the fruit syrups that can be added to your lemonade, how she roasts and purees the peaches.”
And then the government struck…
Word of mouth spread. One customer wanted the lemonade at her Americana-themed wedding reception, but the bride’s caterer insisted that Anabelle would need all the required food vendor permits.
People suggested that Anabelle sell her lemonade at community events, like Movies in the Park.
But of course, she’s going to need permits and all the bells and whistles to do that:
“For food or beverages served to the public, we must require vendors to get a permit through Orange County Health Care,” said Rob Frizzelle, community services manager for Fountain Valley.
Exactly how much do those permits and bells and whistles cost?
The Mercury News reported on the story, and provided a breakdown of the start-up costs for The Loco Lemon to be a permitted food vendor:
Commercial beverage cart: $500-$800
Four commercial-grade beverage dispensers at $100 each: $400
Licensed kitchen rental: At least $75 per week
Deposit for use of kitchen: $500
Liability insurance: $500
County-issued permit: $200
I am suddenly reminded of a quote from the fictional television character Ron Swanson:
“Whatever happened to ‘Hey, I have some apples, would you like to buy them?’ ‘Yes, thank you!’
That’s as complicated as it should be to open a business in this country.”
And, that’s a lot of dough to expect a 10-year-old to come up with.
Anabelle and her family were given 30 days to pay the proper
extortion fees and get the permits to run the business.
“We aren’t rich,” Rene said. “We don’t have that kind of money at our fingertips.”
In the meantime, they have had to turn down a wedding, corporate events, movies in the park, and church events.
So, to keep Anabelle’s dream going, her family started a GoFundMe campaign.
Here’s an interesting excerpt from its page:
Anabelle has worked her little tush off this summer, creating a quality gourmet product and building relationships with families and businesses in our community. She has setup her lemonade stand for charities, too. (children’s cancer research and homeless services) She squeezes every lemon, and tests every fresh-fruit flavor. Her hard work is finally paying off! She has been asked to cater local Fountain Valley events and even weddings. (She hasn’t actually done any yet, but she wants to!) The only setback is now that she has become “popular”, she’s on the radar…she now needs to be permitted with the OC Health Department. After going back and forth with them, they have agreed to issue a permit, but with certain conditions that have to be met in a timely manner:
1. She needs to upgrade her cart to get it up to commercial standards, in order to pass the inspection.
2. She needs to make the lemonade in a licensed facility. Licensed kitchens require: Liability insurance, a business license, a deposit and an hourly or monthly fee for use.
3. She needs commercial grade dispensers and bottles.
The total cost to get her started is approximately $3,500 and about $500/year after that. Whew! As a small business owner myself, I know that this isn’t much to start a potentially successful business. But to a 10 year old, it seems like a million. We are asking all of our friends, family and supporters to donate what you can… and in exchange, we have some great prizes available.
The Loco Lemon’s Facebook page reports that, unfortunately, the blossoming business has some haters:
Thank you so much for all the support guys! Just wanted to address the 100’s of hateful mean-spirited comments left on the KTLA FB page… 1. Our family isn’t rich just because we live in an overpriced rental in FV 2. She’s not an “entitled White girl”, her mother is black and Mexican from Moreno Valley 3. She only works 5 hours a week, 1 day per week 4. No one is forcing her to do anything 5. Aside from the money she has raised for charities, she keeps her own money 6. She is smart as a whip, sweet and funny. For grown ups to refer to her as a “little bitch” is just downright uncalled for.
Aren’t we supposed to be supportive of kids who strive for something greater than selfies or sitting on their butt?
The GoFundMe was created over 2 weeks ago for family and friends near and far to be able to contribute to her growth. Initially we applied for a Kiva loan. Kiva would only approve the account if an adult was the face of her company. That would be false. So we went with GFM instead. In any case, we believe she is worth the investment, we are so proud of her! Again, thank you for everyone who has contributed.
Yes, we ARE supposed to be supportive of kids who are creative, resourceful, and ambitious.
We are NOT supposed to crush their entrepreneurial spirit and dreams of creating something big. Once upon a time, working hard and building businesses from scratch was the American way.
But increasing government
meddling regulation and bureaucratic red tape make opening and running businesses nearly impossible for many. It makes me sad to think about all the people out there who have dreams and great ideas like Anabelle’s who are deterred by the maze of obstacles that government places before them.
Anabelle posted this thank you video on The Loco Lemon’s YouTube channel.
At the 1:22 mark, she offers encouragement to other kids who have big dreams.
The world could use some more Anabelles.