Kids get taste of running business

Lemonade stand program teaches children about promotion, bookkeeping

July 21, 1999|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

Dressed in a baggy, bright yellow cotton suit and a green visor dotted with felt leaves, Jermaine Allen bopped up and down Somerset, Eager and Aisquith streets yelling at passing motorists and pedestrians to buy a cup of lemonade.

The 9-year-old mobile lemon was learning an important part of a successful business: promotion.

Jermaine is one of about 20 children participating in the Caroline Center's summer program, Camp Lemonade Stand. While their mothers complete the center's welfare-to-work training program, the children are learning business basics by running a lemonade stand and doing everything from product selection to advertising.

"Nobody else wanted to dress up like a lemon, so I did," Jermaine said, as he started on his quest to draw customers to the stand -- a rectangular table bordered with strips of yellow and green tissue paper.

Yesterday, the children set up outside the center in the 900 block of Somerset St., and today they will be at Cathedral of the Incarnation at 4 E. University Parkway from 11: 30 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m.

They will hold a final sale July 28 outside the center. Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is scheduled to stop by for a cup of pink or yellow lemonade. But the children might move the stand up the block next week because they found yesterday that the narrow street in front of the center didn't have enough traffic. Another business lesson learned: location, location, location.

"Here, there's more commotion, more people," said 10-year-old Samantha Rodgers as she stood at Somerset and East Eager streets.

Townsend, who had to cancel yesterday's planned visit because of the death of her cousin John F. Kennedy Jr., has played a key role in the lemonade stand, awarding a community grant to the center, said Nancy Wagner, the program's director. Several private donors provided help.

Developed in 1992 by Loyola College, through the office of Professional Development Programs of the Sellinger School of Business, the program is designed to give children experience developing and executing a business. The children learn everything from taste testing to find the best product to keeping the books.

The center started the program June 21, and Wagner said it's been a success. "I think the children have enjoyed the opportunity to make a business," she said.

Keiyona Steward said starting a lemonade stand has taught her a lot about teamwork and cooperation. The children divided the activities, such as putting up signs, making lemonade and watching the cash box.

"I like the way we came together to be creative," said the 13-year-old aspiring business manager.

A small line of supporters stood by when the children set up. Profits will be given to a local charity.

Joan Ruzicka stopped by with fellow workers from the nearby Institute of Notre Dame. "We're just here to support them and give them business," she said.

By the end of the day, the pupils had learned an important rule in business: profits first.

When one of the workers wanted a cup of lemonade and didn't have money, Wagner asked the others if they should give her a cup. Some answered with a stern "No," while the majority were willing to give her half a cup.

"I think they've learned a lot," Wagner said.

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