Almost every little girl wants to run a lemonade stand. The appeal of making a few bucks from passersby is iconic. It’s a staple in children’s movies for a reason; running a lemonade stand gives independence, and it inspires an entrepreneurial spirit.
But it’s wasn’t such an enjoyable experience for a little girl from London. For the 5-year-old daughter of Andre Spicer, her first foray into the business world ended in tears. Last week, the steady stream of people walking past the little girl’s Miles End home–trekking to the Lovebox Festival—inspired her to open a lemonade stand.
“She'd hung brightly colored signs off the front of a small table, hoping to induce visitors to stop,” relates Amanda Erickson for The Washington Post.
She sold her lemonade for about 66 cents a glass. For a while, everything was going well.
“My daughter stood proudly in front of the table. ‘Who wants lemonade,’ she called out. Within a minute, she had her first customer. The lemonade quickly disappeared and her little money tin filled up. A happy scene,” Spicer wrote in an op-ed for The Telegraph.
But then the local law enforcement stepped up to the stand, informing the little girl and her father that she was breaking the law. The law enforcement officers then issued them a fine for 150 pounds.
“My daughter burst into tears, repeating again and again ‘have I done a bad thing?’” shared Spicer.
“I was quite shocked,” Spicer said. “I’m a professor in a business school, so I probably should have known some kind of permit was required,” wrote Spicer. “But this was a five-year-old kid selling lemonade. She wasn’t exactly a public safety hazard.”
Spicer says he suggested they apply for a permit and sell lemonade again another day. His daughter wasn’t so enthused by the idea. She told she didn’t want to because it was, “too scary.”
Spicer says the debacle, which he calls “lemonadegate” serves as a reminder of how legalistic the United Kingdom has become.
“It was yet another example of [Britain’s] addiction to pointless rules and regulations,” said Spicer’s Italian friend.
An American friend of Spicer was equally unimpressed with the way English law enforcement handled the situation.
“He told me this would be a national scandal if it happened in the US. Americans would not stand for the spirit of free enterprise being throttled in someone so young.”
In the face of public outrage and Spicer’s op-ed, the council has apologized for the fine.
“We are very sorry that this has happened. We expect our enforcement officers to show common sense and to use their powers sensibly,” they said in a statement. “This clearly did not happen. The fine will be canceled immediately, and we have contacted Mr. Spicer and his daughter to apologize.”
“She just wanted to put a smile on people's faces,” Spicer told the BBC.
But instead, the little girl ended up in tears, and her father was left wondering what children can do these days.
“Now, after Lemonadegate, as I contemplate the long school holidays which lay ahead, I’m even more confused about how to entertain our children. Setting up a lemonade stand is obviously far too risky. Perhaps I should just rely on that good old fashioned parenting technique – handing my daughter an iPad so she can spend hours watching a creepy guy opening up toys he has just bought.”