Rachael Rachael, a mom of two daughters, is a freelance editor and writer who enjoys gardening and dreams of keeping chickens in her suburban St. Louis backyard. In her spare time, she helps to edit her husband’s science fiction books. Read more of Rachael's work at www.rachaelsjohnston.com or contact her by emailing rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

Check out all of the posts in the Mommy Money series.

My husband, daughters, and I go to garage sales almost every weekend during the warmer months. We live in a large suburban area where we can hit dozens of sales without driving more than a 10-minute radius from our home. We go partly for the entertainment and to browse, but I also buy many of my daughters’ clothes at these sales, my husband likes to look for random tech and guy gadgets, and we all like picking up the occasional secondhand book. A few toys somehow find their way into our home, too.

A common sight at these garage sales is the humble lemonade stand. Most of us operated our own stands when we were young, and they’re pretty much the same now: Kids put on their best cute faces and hawk overpriced sugary drinks of dubious quality.

Admittedly, my husband and I are fuddy-duddies. We don’t buy the lemonade.

Lemonade stands tend to be overdone where we live. We commonly come across half a dozen on one Saturday alone, and we are such practical bargain hunters that lemonade stands seem like fluff on the side, something we don’t really need, especially when we stock our car with refillable water bottles and snacks from home on Saturday mornings.

So we mostly ignore the lemonade stands. Live and let live.

Except, setting foot on the driveway at some garage sales with lemonade stands is akin to visiting a used car dealership.

This is what happens. The kid is slouched in a lawn chair at his lemonade stand. He has no customers. He complains to his parents that no one is buying his lemonade. The parents loudly lecture the kid, saying, “Have you asked anyone if they’d like to buy some? You won’t sell any if you don’t put in a little effort. Go on and hustle.”

The kid then systematically goes around to each individual at the sale and asks them to buy lemonade. I feel put on the spot. I feel like a jerk when I say no in front of the kid and his parents, even though I say it politely. Mostly, I feel like it is implied that I should buy lemonade because they’re kids, they’re cute, they’re “working,” and it’s the “nice” thing to do. It’s high pressure sales tactics and hovering parents all rolled into one.

I just smile and say no. I’m teaching my oldest daughter to do the same. A few times, these kids have approached my unsuspecting 4-year-old and asked her, “Do you want some lemonade?” My daughter initially thought it was a kind, no-strings-attached offer and didn’t realize she was supposed to pay for it.

Most of my friends shrug and say, “It’s no big deal. Let the kids have fun and sell their lemonade.” I agree it is a free market. People can try to sell anything they want to sell, including lemonade.

If my daughters get an entrepreneurial streak and want a stand someday, though, I might offer a few suggestions. First of all, do something less hackneyed. Consider cookies, brownies, ice cream cones, hot chocolate, coffee, or doughnuts. They’ve been done before, but they’re not quite as old hat as lemonade.

For something really different, how about homemade loaves of bread made easily in a bread machine? Kids can easily whip up a couple of loaves of quick breads like banana breads, especially in the miniature loaf size. Let them dump fruit and yogurt in the blender and sell custom-made smoothies. If my daughters still insist on lemonade, how about making it from real lemons rather than the powdered mix?

As a customer, this stuff might get my attention.

Really, though, kids can sell whatever they want. The top rule for our daughters will be to let the customers shop in peace.

Because pushy sales people just make everyone uncomfortable.

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Category: Family Finances

Tags: cash