Did you know that British kids don’t do lemonade stands? To be honest, I had no idea, even though I did know that lemonade here is a fizzy drink (which is why we specified that it was American– also a conversation piece, I hoped.)
I didn’t really even think about it– we decided it was time for Amelia to go through this (American) childhood rite of passage, and it never occurred to me that having a lemonade stand might be unusual here. In fact, it’s more than just unusual– it’s unheard of, at least in our town. A lucky coincidence is that there was recently a commercial on local television for HSBC, featuring a very enterprising little American girl with a lemonade stand. I think there would be almost no point of reference for what was going on at our front gate, otherwise!
I have to say, the first day that we set up, and Amelia sat out there to sell was a little hard for me to take. We get a ton of foot traffic on our street, and most people completely ignored my sweet little salesgirl.
It took a little while for it to dawn on me that this was a completely foreign situation for everyone walking by. A few people have stopped, interested, and then they would say with recognition, “Ah, like that bank advert!” Many people just looked confused, others acted like she was panhandling. Fortunately, Amelia doesn’t take it personally. If she is anything, she is tenacious. She latches onto an idea and never lets go. So, she started calling out to every single person walking by. I loved listening to the evolution of her marketing techniques, eventually inviting people to “cool off with a nice, cold glass of lemonade!” I did have to do quite a bit of coaching in terms of how she hollered, since people in Bury can feel harassed quite easily. (Read more about that here.) Now that we’ve done it a few times, Amelia has mastered the fine art of cordially inviting people to enjoy a drink. I love watching her work, and seeing her come up with new ideas. The qualities that often really exhaust me as a parent (not taking no for an answer, or doggedly pursuing me with her plans for my life, for example) are exactly what make her a great salesperson.
This is the sign she came up with for nap time. Plus, more signs. She has also made illustrative displays with lemons and clementines.
To be honest, most people give her the cold shoulder, or tell her they’re not interested. Someone told her not to talk to strangers, and others just put up their hand, as if to block her verbal advances. It’s a little disheartening when this happens for an hour. But good things are happening, too, and it has been a really positive experience overall. Some people stop and talk. And now that we’ve done it about six times, she has some very dedicated customers, who stop and buy some every single time. We’ve had people come back twice on the same day. There’s also the novelty factor, and we do get people who are genuinely delighted to see that this is happening in their very own neighborhood. There are many comments about how enterprising she is. Someone gave us a mini inspirational lecture yesterday about how “in England, we are all about people trying things.”
And we have met more neighbors! One man showed up, looking very pleased and announcing that he had just moved into our neighborhood two days ago. Knowing our own experience with having a hard time meeting our neighbors, I was really glad to introduce myself and tell him about the families I knew on our street. His wife came by the next day, and introduced herself. I also met an American woman who had been living in England for 15 years, who was moving to Bury from a village a ways away. I was a little taken aback when she told me in a crisp English accent that she was from Seattle. I have connected with a number of people just on the subject of how our lemonade stand is being received. It’s been really therapeutic!
Amelia is pretty committed to her endeavor, and has been telling people at our open market, that like the vendors there, she is also selling things to earn money– but that she needs £100 for a playhouse. A couple people pulled money out of their pockets and handed it to her, pleased to contribute to her cause. Once again, I am so amazed by her intensity and total lack of social fear or self-consciousness. And, even with buying the supplies for the stand herself, she is already up to £60 profit! Pretty good, for a six year old!
When we started out, I had no idea how interesting the experience would be for us! The longer people have had to get used the idea, the more receptive they have been. And, naturally outgoing people have found their way to us. It’s been very worthwhile. Today, we made watermelon juice, since we ran out of lemons, and it has been very well received. It’s nice to be out there, participating in our town’s life in this small way!
By the way, can you imagine how much lemonade would be sold by this kid in Turkey?!
(Update: She earned enough for her playhouse, and moved in!)