Is Your Kid's Lemonade Stand Legal?

These boys are showing an early entrepreneurial streak. I wonder if they have the proper permits. (Photo: Hurst Photo/Shutterstock)

Two young girls in Texas who were put out of business for their renegade lemonade stand have been vindicated. A new law passed in Texas this week legalizes children's lemonade stands across the state.

Naturally, Gov. Greg Abbott celebrated signing the law with a glass of lemonade.

The "common sense" law was a long time coming. Zoey and Andria Green of Overton, Texas, opened a lemonade stand to raise money to buy their dad tickets to a nearby splash park for Father's Day in 2015. About $25 later, the local police showed up. The girls were first told they needed a peddler's permit, but after they obtained one, they were told that they would also need a food-handling permit from the health department. They solved the issue by setting up a new stand and offering lemonade for free while accepting tips. (They received hundreds of dollars in donations as well as free tickets to the amusement park from the park owners .... a lesson in problem-solving for the rest of us to ponder today.)

The Texas lemonade stand law — which covers all non-alcoholic beverages sold on private property and in public parks — goes into effect in September, when the girls plan to host a lemonade celebration.

"This is deeper than Lemonade," posted their mom, Sandi Green Evans, on her Facebook page. "This is having the ability to preform a simple act, with your own children, on your property or public parks which you pay taxes on! So, here’s to never stopping with a 'NO'. Moving forward to create change, staying focused & not giving up on something you believe in. No matter the size of the issue."

Texas followed in the footsteps of Utah, which officially made it legal for kids to open lemonade stands or run the occasional business in April 2017. You wouldn't think such a law would be necessary, but in most states, the harmless business pursuits of kids can get shut down.

The infamous history of 'bootlegging' lemonade

Kids have been shoveling snow and opening up pop-up lemonade stands for decades, but over the past few years, some communities have been cracking down on these ventures under the guise of regulation. In 2011, Georgia police officers shut down a lemonade stand run by three little girls because they didn't have a business license or the proper permits required to sell food. Last year, two teens were threatened with fines from New Jersey officials because they hadn't obtained a "solicitation permit" before they went door-to-door offering to shovel snow after a storm.

These kid vs. cop clashes have become so frequent in recent years that attorney Dave Roland, who founded the Freedom Center of Missouri with his wife, Jennifer, began plotting them in Google Maps.

Roland represented two Girl Scouts in Missouri who were barred from selling Girl Scout cookies out of their driveway. According to Roland, media attention usually helps government officials and law enforcement agencies see the light and let these kids get back to business. But one issue still remains: laws requiring permits and licenses aimed at adults are increasingly being used to shut kids down. More often than not, law enforcement gets involved in response to a complaint from a neighbor and the case escalates from there.

So what can parents do to help their kids stay on the right side of the law with business ventures? The best bet is to call your local city or town office and ask if there are any regulations in place that would prevent kids from running a lemonade stand or babysitting for their neighbors. That should give you an idea about whether or not your local government is willing to work with kids to protect these "occasional" businesses.

The helpful site How To Start A Lemonade Stand offers a slew of suggestions on what other steps a young entrepreneur should take.

You may even want to spearhead an initiative similar to the recent law enacted in Utah, that would officially make it legal for kids to take on the occasional side job to earn some extra cash or raise money for a charity. Now that's turning lemons into lemonade.