The trick to selling lemonade on a cool and blustery day is to do a little something different from your competition.
Tajahshuane Hogan, 13, Tynae Haley, 11, and Ashanti Phelps, 8, decided their product would stand out if they went with pink lemonade for the Omaha area's first Lemonade Day. The girls also sold lemon and raspberry cupcakes from noon until 4 p.m. in front of the Walmart store at 6304 N. 99th St.
“We wanted to do something special and we thought ‘Most people like pink lemonade,' and it has gone real good,” Tajahshuane said. “Pink lemonade with the (lemon) slices floating in the pitcher. It looks good and tastes good.”
Lemonade Day began four years ago in Houston when a group called Prepared 4 Life set out to get young people ages 3 to 17 interested in entrepreneurship and community involvement. It has now been adopted by nearly 30 cities in the United States and Canada.
In Omaha, the effort was led by Mayor Jim Suttle's office, with help from Creighton University and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the Midlands Mentoring Partnership and Building Bright Futures. About 1,500 kids were expected to sell lemonade and sweets over three Sundays.
At Walmart, the workload was shared by Tajahshuane, a seventh-grader at Millard Central Middle School; Tynae, a fifth-grader at Western Hills Elementary; and Ashanti, a third-grader at Underwood Hills Elementary. Tajahshuane mixed the lemonade, Ashanti kept up a steady stream of chatter to attract customers and Tynae kept track of the money.
“Pink lemonade,” Ashanti sang out at every opportunity. “Pink lemonade and cupcakes! You can help a charity!”
The girls, who were joined by 5-year-old Akeyle Williams, said they would donate part of the profits to one or more churches.
“We're doing really good,” Tynae said. “One man bought 11 (cupcakes), so my mom had to go home to make some more.”
Jessie Bowman, an AmeriCorps volunteer who is the director of Omaha's Lemonade Day, said kids were told to select a charity to share their profits with after paying for their supplies. In most cases, parents bankrolled the business.
“Something as simple as a lemonade stand can teach kids to budget, build a business plan and practice customer service,” Bowman said. “They are also learning the importance of charity.”
The children signed up as individuals or through programs at schools, churches and community organizations. Participants received a backpack filled with workbooks on all aspects of getting started in business, from customer service and marketing to choosing a location.
At the Hy-Vee Supermarket near 156th Street and West Maple Road, a group of Saddlebrook Elementary students had two stands up and running.
Suzi Yokley-Busby, student engagement coordinator for UNO and Building Bright Futures, stood off to the side as her daughter, Brooklyn Busby, 7, and Eric Gray, 9, worked out the change for a 50-cent cookie. Eric, a third-grader, said running the plastic cash register was his favorite part of the job.
“A dollar is 100 pennies, so 50 from 100 is 50,” Eric said as he handed back two quarters to a customer. “And ... uh, thank you!”
Cam Pfaff, 7, came up with the idea of selling sugar-free lemonade as well as the original recipe. Cam also kept a watchful eye on the cookies his mother had made and was forced to eat any cookies that passers-by touched but did not purchase.
Cam said the three had decided to donate part of their profits to the Saddlebrook Community Recreation Center.
Near 35th Street and Woolworth Avenue, kids from the Park Avenue Soccer Stars were raising money to buy new uniforms. Their coach, the Rev. Howard Dotson of Westminster Presbyterian Church, supervised about 10 kids, many of whom worked on their soccer skills on the church grounds.
Megan Montes, 11, a sixth-grader at George Norris Junior High, said the lemonade stand had been a “pretty interesting” venture.
“It teaches you to keep track of all the costs so that you figure out how much money you are going to make,” Megan said. “I think it's good if you want your own business.”
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