In West Stockbridge, lemonade stand gives kids a taste of entrepreneurship

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WEST STOCKBRIDGE — Tyler Campbell, 10, says he was born for this.

Sitting outside Public Market on Friday afternoon with his brother, Cody, 12, the two sell lemonade to raise money to buy school supplies and books for the fall.

"One time I made $20," Tyler says of his lemonade-selling skills. "I was selling them for 10 cents a cup, too. I did it in like two hours."

"You had your friends help you," Cody says.

"Nuh-uh, it was just me and Mom," Tyler replies.

"I love selling lemonade. I love making it and going on the street and selling it; it's fun," Tyler says. You meet people and then "they become your friends."

Also, he adds, "It beats doing nothing."

The brothers are participating in an event called Lemonade Fridays, which was started by Tim Walsh, owner of Public Market. For just about any Friday through the fall, a West Stockbridge child can put out a table, make a sign and sell lemonade under the Public Market awning. Kids need to register first by calling the store and getting the OK from Walsh.

He came up with the idea after driving by neighborhood lemonade stands and noticing that, oftentimes, there weren't places for potential customers to park.

"I've seen a lot of kids with lemonade stands and no traffic," says Walsh, a father who coaches Little League baseball. Lemonade Fridays is "for someone who doesn't have a house or a long driveway or they live down a dirt road, whatever it is. They can stand in front of the store and do great."

In rural communities, lemonade stands can be a rough business for kids. Living among the mountains, farms and trees usually means there are fewer sidewalks and potential customers than in the suburbs or cities. In a rural town, a kid's closest neighbor could live a half-mile down the road.

And there's always the looming threat of being shut down. Nationwide, a few news outlets have reported instances of children's lemonade stands being closed for not having proper business licenses. In May, Denver police posted a notice to the department's Facebook page defending the recent closure of a lemonade stand.

At the last Lemonade Friday, there were two stands outside Public Market, a Main Street general store that's also a popular spot to grab a bite. Walsh says the boy who ran the first stand did well, collecting a small basket-worth of dollar bills and change.

On Friday afternoon, Cody and Tyler were selling lemonade, Laffy Taffy and Twizzlers for donations. In their first half-hour, the brothers made $10.

As customers come and go, they chat up the boys about school and what it's like to run a business. The boys say they're raising money to defray the cost of back-to-school supplies and buy more books, maybe something like "Doglands" or one from the Indiana Jones series.

"You've got to spend money on bills," Tyler says. "School supplies are really expensive."

Kristin Palpini can be reached at kpalpini@berkshireeagle.com, @kristinpalpini on Twitter, 413-629-4621.

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