Lemonade, Inc.

June 6, 2013

By Pat Detmer

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I am a sucker for a lemonade stand. If I spot one, I’ll buy a glass. Rarely do I drink it all. I’m generally not a fan of lemonade unless there’s alcohol involved, but I stop anyway because I know that in doing so I’m aiding a budding sales representative or a nascent entrepreneur, and I also know that someone in the house behind the stand was brave enough to suggest it and to allow a sticky mess in the kitchen, much like my mother did when we were young.

Had my mother been born in a different time, she might have been the CEO of a corporation. She was a natural, and she taught us much of what we know today about sales and marketing. She continued those lessons with my nephew Zack, now in his early 20s. He had his first lemonade stand at her house when he was 4 years old, and she put him through her patented Lemonade Stand Boot Camp.

She gave Zack the same instructions that we had been given in our youth: Be polite. Smile. Look people in the eye. Speak distinctly. Take care with sanitation.

“Never pick up the cookie with your hand, Zack,” she admonished. “Use a napkin to pick it up and hand it to your customer.”

And so they set up the stand at curbside: freshly washed tablecloth, cookies to the left neatly stacked on a plate, a pitcher of lemonade to the right with glasses waiting beside the pitcher, the glasses upside-down, of course, so that nothing unseemly could fall into them that might taint the buyer’s experience.

Zack’s first customer — a willing neighbor — came across the cul-de-sac, and under Mother’s watchful eye, the next generation of Detmer Lemonade Corp. proceeded with the sale. Zack spoke clearly and looked the customer in the eye. He repeated the order (“One lemonade and one cookie”) so that he could be corrected if he’d heard the order wrong, and then after a confirming nod, Zack took a napkin in hand, picked up a cookie, and offered it across the table, product safely shielded from flesh.

Zack then turned over a glass, picked up the pitcher, and poured. It was a sizeable vessel for a small child to handle, but he was very cautious, using both hands to keep it steady. His pour was not too fast nor too slow. He didn’t overfill or underfill. It was pretty-near perfect, and Mother must have been proud as she viewed this, as the lemonade swirled into the glass.

And then he leaned forward and carefully licked the lemonade drops from the pitcher rim.


You can reach Pat Detmer — who is in sales as are her two sisters, and who decided long ago that she would never eat at Zack’s — at patdetmer@aol.com.

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