Running a lemonade stand is often a child’s first introduction into the vagaries of business and commerce. But 7-year-old Julia Murphy of Oregon City, Oregon, also got a scary introduction to government regulation of business.
Julia Murphy was running a lemonade stand at a local art fair, selling refreshing drinks to passersby for a little extra summer money. What Julia did not know, but was soon informed, was that she was also violating a government requirement to get a $120 “temporary restaurant license.”
The Oregonian relates the tale of unfettered capitalism colliding into government overreach, interviewing Julia’s mom, Maria Fife:
“The girl worked on a sign, coloring in the letters and decorating it with a drawing of a person saying ‘Yummy.’ She made a list of supplies.
“Then, with gallons of bottled water and packets of Kool-Aid, they drove up last Thursday with a friend and her daughter. They loaded a wheelbarrow that Julie steered to the corner of Northeast 26th and Alberta and settled into a space between a painter and a couple who sold handmade bags and kids’ clothing.
“Even before her daughter had finished making the first batch of lemonade, a man walked up to buy a 50-cent cup.
“‘They wanted to support a little 7-year-old to earn a little extra summer loot,’ she said. ‘People know what’s going on.’
“Even so, Julie was careful about making the lemonade, cleaning her hands with hand sanitizer, using a scoop for the bagged ice and keeping everything covered when it wasn’t in use, Fife said.
“After 20 minutes, a ‘lady with a clipboard’ came over and asked for their license. When Fife explained they didn’t have one, the woman told them they would need to leave or possibly face a $500 fine.
“Surprised, Fife started to pack up. The people staffing the booths next to them encouraged the two to stay, telling them the inspectors had no right to kick them out of the neighborhood gathering. They also suggested that they give away the lemonade and accept donations instead and one of them made an announcement to the crowd to support the lemonade stand.
“That’s when business really picked up — and two inspectors came back, Fife said. Julie started crying, while her mother packed up and others confronted the inspectors. ‘It was a very big scene,’ Fife said.”
Julia Murphy thus got a painful lesson in how one cannot just set up a business, even a kid’s lemonade stand, without giving the government its due. But this was not the end of the lesson. Julia soon learned how the people can respond to government abuse. And the government found out what can happen when it makes little kids cry.
Michael Franklin, a local anarchist, was manning a booth next to Julia’s. Franklin started a “lemonade revolt,” which involved people setting up unregulated and unlicensed lemonade stands and defying the government to do something about it.
The upshot is that the local government has been forced to stand down and apologize to Julia Murphy. It is unknown at this time whether the local authorities will exercise discretion in accusing 7-year-old girls of being law breakers for selling lemonade or whether an actual exemption will be passed to the regulations that force anyone, even small children, to shell out money for the right to sell refreshing drinks to passersby.
Portland lemonade stand runs into health inspectors, needs $120 license to operate, Helen Jung, The Oregonian, August 4th, 2010