Wednesday, 12 June 2019 18:29

COLUMN: Lemonade freedom thrives in Hamlet, but not the rest of the country

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Hamlet Police officers Patrolman Donald Morton and Sgt. Britt Emert stop by a local lemonade stand May 25. Hamlet Police officers Patrolman Donald Morton and Sgt. Britt Emert stop by a local lemonade stand May 25. Hamlet Police Department

Selling lemonade on the side of the street has been a summer tradition for American kids for years.


On May 25, the Hamlet Police Department posted a photo to its Facebook page of Sgt. Britt Emert and Patrolman Donald Morton buying a couple of cups from two girls who set up a stand.

While they had smiles on their faces, some young entrepreneurs across the country have had a sour experience.

This decade has been rife with news reports on officers and health inspectors shutting down kids’ lemonade stands because they didn’t have permits from the local government. Some, like in Maryland, have even been fined.

In 2011, a Forbes columnist highlighted cases in Georgia and Iowa. I also followed the disturbing trend and wrote about several cases at my currently defunct website, Indieregister.com.

In response to the regulatory madness, Aug. 20 was unofficially declared Lemonade Freedom Day.

That same year, on Lemonade Freedom Day, three activists were arrested in Washington, D.C. for setting up a stand on the National Mall.

The trend continued throughout the decade, with cases as recently as last year in Colorado and New York.

The problem isn’t limited to the U.S. either. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation featured a 2016 report on two young girls, much like those in Hamlet, having their stand in Ottawa shut down.

Some kids raise money for charities or a special family cause, others to go to camp, or to just learn the basics of running a business, but pricey permits can slice into their paltry profits.

While some governments have capitulated, apologized and made exceptions, others have stuck to their guns in the name of public health and safety.

CountryTime announced last year that it would set up a Legal-Ade fund to help cover permit costs for shut-down stands.

The offer was once again extended this year, with the company making $30,000 available for parents or guardians of children 14-years-old or younger who were fined for selling lemonade without a permit from April 26-Sept. 2.

This week, Texas passed a law making it illegal to shut down lemonade stands in the Lone Star State.

I applaud the Hamlet officers, CountryTime and the Texas legislature for their support of kids just trying to earn a few bucks without burdensome regulations (though that would give them an insight as to how things really work).

Maybe one day, we can live in a country where children are free to sell lemonade without being pestered by petty government officials.

 

William R. Toler is managing editor of RichmondObserver.com.