The chance for children to try their hand at salesmanship and running their own business has returned in the form of this year’s Lemonade Day.
A national program originating in Texas in 2007, Lemonade Day takes place across Alaska and promotes entrepreneurship among kids and teens. Hundreds of local kids will sell the sweet summer drink at stands all over the central Kenai Peninsula this Saturday.
Nolan Klouda, executive director of the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development, said the program was brought to the state in 2011, starting in Anchorage, as a way to help plant the seed of entrepreneurship in Alaska’s youth. Around 3,300 kids from preschool through high school from about 40 Alaska communities will host lemonade stands this year, Klouda said.
“We’ve been around since 1992,” Klouda said of the center. “And our focus is mostly on helping communities around the state with economic development. … But one of the things that’s been a focus area is how to improve the entrepreneurial climate of Alaska.”
While there are no strictly set times for Lemonade Day, Klouda said most kids see a lot of traffic at their stands between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Kenai will boast at least six stands and there will be around 20 stand locations in Soldotna, according to the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce. Most of the businesses that host the stands tend to be repeats, said Chastity Swafford, facility rentals coordinator at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce. Andy Rash, events coordinator at the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, said area business owners get excited to participate with the kids.
“Businesses especially call early in the year to figure out how to get a kid in front of the business,” he said.
The character “Lemon Head” will take time to make the rounds to all the stands in both Kenai and Soldotna, Swafford said.
“A lot of people will stand hop, they’ll go to all the stands,” she said. “All the kids are pretty unique.”
Many participants offer treats along with their lemonade, Swafford said.
Klouda described one young girl he spoke with who used her dog as a mascot to help sell her lemonade, going so far as to make a special T-shirt for it.
“A lot of the kids get really into marketing,” he said. “It’s a good thing for them to kind of unleash their creativity on.”
Klouda described the event as a way kids can learn about money management, marketing and other aspects of running a business while still having fun. Participants are surveyed after each year, and Klouda said about 80 percent of last year’s kids put some of the money the collected into a savings account, while about 60 percent donated some of their funds to their favorite charity.
He said successful business owners tend to have gotten an early start or begin learning the basics as children, citing a study conducted in 2007 on businesses in rural Alaska.
Having kids participate in Lemonade Day is a way to continue that trend, he said.
“It’s really kind of a long term way to think about economic growth in the state,” Klouda said.
Reach Megan Pacer at email@example.com.