In the heat of the summer, even Alaskans need a way to cool off. On Saturday, as temperatures reached nearly 80 degrees, dozens of resourceful kids from around the peninsula parked their roadside stands all over Soldotna for Lemonade Day and offered fresh-squeezed lemonade and homemade snacks to thirsty residents and tourists.
Organized annually by the Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce, Lemonade Day aims to give young entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of running a small business — from idea to execution, Sara Hondel, tourism and education director for the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, said.
To get involved, parents register their kids online either at the chamber websites or on the Lemonade Day Alaska website and receive a yellow backpack from the chamber full of information on financial literacy, how to seek investors, how to build a business plan and everything else they need to start a successful venture. Hondel said that the kids also participate in two workshops at the end of the school year. One workshop focuses on teaching them about running a business, marketing and food safety. The second workshop is hosted by Home Depot and teaches kids how to actually build their lemonade stand. Children are encouraged to donate a portion of their profits to a charity of their choice. In addition, the kids are responsible for reaching out to local businesses to host their stands.
On the day of the event, Lemonhead — the Lemonade Day mascot — goes all around town to visit each of the booths registered with the chamber. This year the Lemonhead mask was donned by Hondel’s mom, Terri Burdick, who put her experience with the Kenai Performers to good use while entertaining the kids.
Due to the competitive nature of the lemonade business these days, the young entrepreneurs of Lemonade Day have come up with creative and unique offerings for their customers over the years, going way beyond just lemonade.
Paxton McKnight had a stand set up inside the Fred Meyer in Soldotna and took a sweet-and-salty approach to his venture, offering red licorice and popcorn alongside his homemade lemonade. McKnight has set up lemonade stands at other locations in the past, and he said that although business was good this year, his best year was when he was able to set his stand up in the KeyBank parking lot on the day of the Soldotna River Festival.
“It was pretty easy to catch people on their way across the street to the park,” McKnight said. “So we made a lot of money that year.”
McKnight said he plans to donate 30% of the profits from Saturday to Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical humanitarian aid organization.
On the other side of Fred Meyer was another lemonade stand, this one run by a few kids from the Midnight Sun Chapter of the Future Farmers of America. In addition to offering lemonade made with “TLC” and organic lemons, the FFA kids also had homemade Rice Krispie treats and snickerdoodles for sale. Sam Festervand, JaLeen Gattenby, Michael Boatright and Nathaniel Boatright are using the profits from their lemonade stand to help fund future FFA trips and projects.
Outside of First American Title, the Lervig Brothers Gunnar and Ryder were trying their hands at the business for the second year in a row. The Lervig Brothers gave their mom credit for actually making the lemonade — which they offered in the traditional and strawberry varieties — but the two boys had the salesmanship down to a science. Ryder’s calls of “Come get your lemonade!” could be heard from across the parking lot and didn’t fail to draw a crowd. The Lervigs had popsicles, chips and water bottles, as well as an assortment of fresh fruit to add a touch of class to each glass of lemonade.
Gunnar said that most of their profits from Saturday would be going toward equipment for their football team.
“And some toys!” Ryder quickly added.
From their stand — dubbed Lemony Spigots — at the entrance to Sportsman’s Warehouse, Bri Havrilla and her daughters Addison, Isabella and Emma sold blueberry and strawberry lemonade, Arnold Palmer iced tea and lemonade, and homemade lemon cupcakes with buttercream frosting. Addison said that business had been good so far, so good in fact that a few people had come back for seconds. For Addison, the biggest challenge of starting a lemonade business from scratch was actually making the lemonade. It took a few trial batches to create the perfect recipe, she said. The Havrilla’s planned to donate 10% of their profits to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
Over at the Liquid Sunshine booth on Binkley Street, 6-year-old Ava McCaughey was serving up her lemonade in style, sporting a pair of sunglasses and a pink tutu while asking her customers “strawberry or regular?” McCaughey offered fresh fruit with the lemonade as well as banana creme cookies and muffins. McCaughey said they hadn’t decided yet on how to spend or save their profits from the day, but her business partner Zoey Stone had suggested putting some of it toward a trip to Disney Land.
Outside of Kenai Kids Therapy on the Kenai Spur Highway, Avery and Nathan Powell had their 907 Sibling Rivalry stand stocked with homemade Rice Krispies treats, Red Vines and two kinds of lemonade. They said the name came from the fact that they offered two types of lemonade and wanted to see which one sold better. Nathan said that the pink was winning at that point in the day, but added that last year the traditional yellow had sold out fast. This year the Powells will be giving half of their profits to the local Soldotna Whalers Wrestling Club.
Local Girl Scout Troop 210 also had their Hello Sunshine! stand on the Kenai Spur Highway just down the road, outside of Sweeney’s. Soon-to-be first graders Brooklynne Timm and Kinley Clack were running the stand for the lunch rush. As well as homemade snacks, they offered frozen pineapple lemonade blended while you wait.
Continuing south on the highway, Autumn Bass, Aries Lyons, Logan Amaya, Tucker Challans and Alexa Menzel sold strawberry and traditional lemonade while Yo! Tacos owner Nila Sanchez set up her taco shop just a few feet away. Sanchez has sponsored kids and their lemonade stands through her Next Generation program for the past two years in order to encourage and develop youth entrepreneurial and leadership skills for the future. The kids were in charge of running the lemonade stand, but Sanchez was always close by to give them a quick pep talk or break into dance while holding signs on the side of the road.
Below is a full list of the lemonade stands that registered with the chamber for Lemonade Day and their host businesses:
Kerley Boy’s Lemonade at Pad Thai Cafe
Beyonce’s Lemonade at AAA Alaska Cab
Hello Sunshine! At Sweeney’s
Rainey Day Lemonade at Shucks O’Reilly Auto Parts
Everett’s Lemonade Stand at the Kaladi Brothers on Kobuk Street
Northern Lemon at Allen Sisters Coffee
Next Generation with Yo! Tacos on the Kenai Spur Highway
Lemony Spigots at Sportsman’s Warehouse
Melon Girls at the Kenai Peninsula Harley Davidson
Lilly & Sister Lemonade at Spenard Builder’s Supply
Auntie Iris’ Lemonade at 4-D Carpet One
Liquid Sunshine at Safeway
The Midnight Sun FFA Lemonade Stand at Fred Meyer
Squeeze the Day at Fred Meyer
Hotspot Lemonade at AT&T
Lervig Brother’s Lemonade at First American Title
Lemonade Under the Big Top at Jumpin’ Junction