The Government War On Kid-Run Concession Stands

The Government War On Kid-Run Concession Stands

View Local Restrictions on Kid-Run Concession Stands in a larger map
Red = Town has previously shut down kid-run concession stands.
Yellow = Town says kid-run concession stands are illegal unless the kids obtain at least one city permit.
Green = Town (or state!) permits kid-run concession stands without requiring any permits.

UPDATE: We first started bringing peoples’ attention to the government war on kid-run concession stands in late July 2011.  In the years since, thanks to our efforts, Lemonade Freedom has become a trendy cause!  Since 2017, four states (Utah, Colorado, Texas, and Tennessee) have passed laws expressly protecting childhood entrepreneurship, and other states (including New York) are considering similar bills.  Country Time Lemonade has even made protecting kid-run lemonade stands a way to promote their brand.  We are thrilled with these developments and we look forward to the day when our map can show that every state protects kid-run concession stands!


On June 10, 2019, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 234 – which passed unanimously in the Texas Legislature.  This bill prohibits local governments or homeowners associations throughout the entire state from interfering with kid-run concession stands.

On April 23, 2019, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed HB 0012, which prohibits a county or municipality from requiring a license, fee, permit, or other form of regulation for a business that is operated solely by a person under 18 years of age, is located on private property with the property owner’s permission, and generates gross receipts of contributions of $3,000 or less in a calendar year.

On April 1, 2019, Governor Jared Polis signed a bill legalizing kid-run concession stands throughout the state of Colorado!

July 28, 2018 – A New York State Health Department official ordered a seven-year-old boy to stop selling lemonade from a stand he had set up in his family’s back yard.  The outrage that erupted once the story emerged led the state’s governor to intervene; he directed the Health Department to back off and offered personally to pay any fees on the boy’s behalf.

May 29, 2018 – Denver police shut down a lemonade stand that two young children were running to raise money to help a 5-year-old Indonesian child; the police claimed that the children were required to obtain a $125 permit from the city.  The shut-down was prompted by a complaint from a nearby adult vendor who was trying to sell lemonade for $7 per cup – he was apparently frustrated that the children were selling their own lemonade at the price of two cups for $1.

On March 24, 2017, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed HB 81, which protects small-scale childhood entrepreneurship – including temporary concession stands!

June 8, 2015 – The Chief of Police in little Overton, Texas, informed 7- and 8-year-old sisters that their lemonade stand violated the town’s ordinances unless they obtained a $150 “peddler’s permit.”  When a neighbor went to get that permit, he was told that the girls would also need a separate permit from the local health department.

May 20, 2015 – Health Department officials in Batavia, New York, required officials for local Little League baseball teams to throw away pizza and hot dogs that parents and children were selling at their games because the had not paid a $175 permit for each of the two stands at the ballpark.

August 26, 2014 – A 12-year-old boy in Dunedin, Florida, got a lesson in petty tyranny when his 61-year-old neighbor repeatedly badgered city officials to shut down the concession stand at which he sells cookies and lemonade.  County police came to the neighborhood several times as a result, but appear to have stopped short of demanding the closure of the stand.

May 19, 2014 – Police in San Francisco, California, tell an 11-year-old that it is not just illegal to sell lemonade and brownies… even giving them away for free would result in a $1,500 fine!

January 27, 2014 – An 11-year-old in Troy, Illinois, was making about $200 per month selling homemade cupcakes in her community… until the Madison County Health Department commanded her to shut down the business.  The government officials said she could only continue selling cupcakes if she bought a bakery or built a new, dedicated cupcake-making kitchen separate from the existing kitchen.

August 8, 2013 – Police in Queens, New York, shut down a lemonade stand run by 9-year-old Nora and 11-year-old Jameala Lahoud, arguing that anyone who operates any food stand is required to get a permit from the Department of Health – no exceptions.

August 3, 2013 – The Farrell family lives in the community that hosts the Reno-Tahoe Open golf tournament and for years Emma and Alex Farrell set up a concession stand in front of their house to cater to those attending the event.  But when another vendor complained that the girls’ stand was serving people who otherwise would have to come to the vendor, Washoe County health officials demanded the closure of the girls’ concession stand.

August 10, 2012 – An enterprising young man whose family was enduring severe financial difficulty decided to invest in a hot dog stand that, he hoped, would help keep him and his parents off the streets.  Those hopes were dashed when city zoning officials deemed his hot dog stand illegal.  Although he was subsequently invited to sell his hot dogs are events in various other communities, each location required new, costly health department permits that drained away his profits.

April 16, 2012 – For years the Westbury family had sold lemonade, cookies, and banana bread from the end of their driveway in Hopkinton, Massachusetts to spectators at the Boston Marathon; the family donated the proceeds to Relay for Life, an anti-cancer charity.  But on April 16, 2012, city health officials shut them down because they had not obtained a permit.

August 6, 2011 – The Massachusetts State Police shut down the stand of a 12-year-old refugee from Fukushima, Japan, who was selling green tea he’d brought with him when they evacuated after the tsunami.

August 1, 2011 – Police officers in Coralville, Iowa, ordered at least three different sets of children to quit selling lemonade during the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa unless they first got a vendor’s permit and a health inspection. This is the first known example of a coordinated set of shutdowns at a single time.

July 19, 2011 – McAllen, Texas shuts down girls’ lemonade stand for failure to obtain food permit, may assess grandmother $50 fine.

July 17, 2011 – Police in Appleton, Wisconsin inform children that despite legally selling lemonade and cookies in their front yard during an annual city festival for the past six or seven years, a new city ordinance bans these sales in order to protect licensed vendors from competition.

July 15, 2011 – Cops in Midway, Georgia shut down a lemonade stand some kids were running in their own front yard, saying the kids had to obtain a peddler’s license, a food license, and pay $50 per day for a temporary business permit.

June 16, 2011 – County Inspector in Maryland closes kids’ lemonade stand, fines parents $500.

June 10, 2011 – Philadelphia Department of Health shuts down cancer charity’s lemonade stand for lack of permit, hand-washing station.

March 7, 2011 – Hazelwood, Missouri, demands an end to Girl Scouts’ driveway cookie stand.

February 26, 2011 – Georgia police demand closure of Girl Scout cookie stand until girls obtain a peddler’s permit.

February 26, 2011 – In a separate incident, Savannah, Georgia, determines that city ordinances require an end to 40 year tradition of Girl Scouts selling cookies outside the historic home of the organization’s founder.

November 15, 2010 – Politician in New York sics police on 13-year-olds for selling cupcakes.

October 23, 2010 – Idaho Tax Commission official demands closure of children’s roadside pumpkin stand.

August 6, 2010 – Oregon health inspector orders lemonade stand closed unless 7-year-old girl obtains $120 license.

July 26, 2010 – San Francisco police shut down a concession stand at which a little girl was selling lemonade and brownies.

August 8, 2009 – California code enforcement officer shuts down 8-year-old girl’s lemonade stand for lack of city license.

July 19, 2009 – Police officers in Pennsylvania shut down neighborhood lemonade stand.

August 28, 2008 – Neighborhood produce stand operated by 11-year-old and 4-year-old ordered closed in Clayton, California.

August 19, 2008 – New York City Police close lemonade stand operated by 9- and 10-year old, demanding they first obtain permits – which the children subsequently requested and were denied.

July 19, 2008 – The Mayor of Claremont, California, ordered the closure of a Girl Scout Cookie stand. Afterward, the City Council proposed that all “solicitors” in the city – specifically including Girl Scouts – must have a permit before going door-to-door. After an initial furor, the ordinance passed.

September 25, 2005 – City officials in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, threaten to shut down lemonade stand operated by Brownie troop raising funds to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.

August 3, 2005 – 11- and 9-year-old selling lemonade on Salem Common in Massachusetts are ordered to shut down after nearby sausage vendor complains to police that they were negatively affecting his business.

January 6, 2005 – 10-year-old in Miami Beach, Florida, told the city would not issue her a permit to sell lemonade to raise funds for disaster relief.

August 14, 2004 – St. Louis city health commissioner demands shut down of 10- and 12-year-olds’ lemonade stand for lack of proper licenses and “unsafe ice cubes.”

July 13, 2004 – Despite having a permit from one city department in Las Cruces, New Mexico, three sisters were forced to close their front-yard drink stand.

August 27, 2003 – St. Paul, Minnesota’s Office of Licenses, Inspections and Environmental Protection shut down a seven-year-old’s drink stand because she had not obtained a $60 license.

June 13, 2003 – Law enforcement officials in Naples, Florida, shut down stand selling lemonade and cookies without city license.

August 7, 2001 – County zoning officers in Rio Nido, California, demand closure of children’s snack stand.

Unknown date, 1993 – In 1993 police officers in Charleston, South Carolina, shut down a concession stand run by 12-year-old Sarah Knott and 13-year-old Margaret Johnson, stating that the girls needed to obtain a peddler’s license from the city.  Public opposition in the wake of the shut-down led the city to relent and offer an apology. h/t – Rob Lammie at Mental Floss.

July 23, 1990 – 13-year-old drink vendor shut down by city officials in Ojai, California, for lack of city permits. When he finally got all the necessary licenses, he was able to put what he learned into practice – by calling city officials to shut down other kids who were selling lemonade without a license.

Unknown date, 1988 – In 1988 the city of Watchung, New Jersey, threatened to fine nine-year-old Max Schilling $500 per day for operating a lemonade stand.  The family applied for a zoning variance, which the City ultimately approved with some conditions. h/t – Rob Lammie at Mental Floss.

Unknown date, 1983 – In 1983 an anonymous neighbor complained about six-year-old Ali Thorn’s lemonade stand and the city of Belleair, Florida, ordered her stand closed.  The city relented a week and a half later, having decided that its ordinances were not intended to prevent kid-run concession stands. h/t – Rob Lammie at Mental Floss.


93 thoughts on “The Government War On Kid-Run Concession Stands

  1. Ah, so the word is out from on high for the police to close down those evil lemonade stands. Sure, I can understand that. Once it was prohibition…now it’s lemonade stands. I’m wondering…does this mean the cops don’t have enough to do that they have to zero in on kids? Or that real crime is too much for them so they’ve thrown in the towel and are, instead, taking down something they can handle….like little kids selling lemonade. How pathetic all this is. It’s almost an American right for a kid to be able to sell lemonade and if our government is meddling to the point where that’s no longer allowed…then we need to be taking down our government in favor of something more in line with what it should be.

  2. this is the stupidist thing the goverment can do right now while there low on money. instead of tracking down robberies and murders they spend all there money on stopping lemonade stands!!! this is a outrage!!
    we the tax payers need to stop this before every kid lemonade stand is shutdown. why dont they just ask them to pay a tax or somthing they could make hundreds a year. the lemonade stands are a good teaching tool for these kids it teaches them math so they dont go in debt and if the goverment added tax to running it it would be even better.

      1. John come on seriously! Most of these kids were selling in their OWN FRONT YARDS and a lot of them were selling to raise money for disaster funding. $60 for a 7 year old to have a permit? This is a JOKE, and I guess a way for cities to make money, just like red-light cameras. Police state..that is what we are.

        1. This is an outrage, these kids should be spanked, sent to bed woithout supper and maybe even made to EAT VEGETABLES! I’m surprised the governmet hasn’t sent them to Guantanamo!

    1. This is what happens when corporations control america they kill off all the small buisnesses even little kids lemonade stand are at risk that is how we are become a police state because little kids are better at seller stuff and corperate america is jealous!!

  3. I really used to laugh at the crazies that would scream about “police state” and such. (The fact that they looked like they hadn’t bathed in a year didn’t help their cause much.) These days however it seems like we actually are living in one. I don’t want to live in an America where a police officer feels he can shout at some kids running a lemonade stand. Not only should that idiot and others like him be tossed out, it is quite clear freedom in America has been on a consistent decline and is presently under direct attack.

    It took me awhile to wake up to the realization. I wonder now if it’s too late to turn this around?

  4. This is absolutely out of control. Yes, having a lemonade stand teaches the children so many skills. Social and business wise. A great way for them to have fun, earn a couple of dollars and stay out of trouble. And forget having them pay taxes. Their only kids. They will be paying taxes out the whazoo by the time they grow up. The government already meddles in to many places they don’t belong and this is another one of them. The pursuit of happiness.

  5. After I first read these stories, I instinctively pondered the reasons supporting the authorities. Then I pinched myself and concluded “what does reason have to do with kids selling lemonade in their front yard.”

  6. This must be the juvenile division of the food coop / raw milk police. All over the country they are harrassing farmers who sell raw milk, even if it is “shares” in a cow. It is happening here in Lancaster County to the Amish. In Ohio a SWAT team attacked Manna Storehouse, a natural food coop to which I and friends belong through a subgroup. They seized all the families private food as well as the coop stuff, and took the computer their child used for college courses online.
    Both cases were over licensing issues. The government is a never ending money pit, and they are going to squeeze everything they can. In NJ before we moved away, they wanted to license bicycles. If they can license it, they can control and seize it. Civil confiscation for the ‘war on drugs’ was the first step in taking away our property rights. What the founding fathers considered tyranny was peanuts to what we deal with today in the over-regulated environment.
    Consider they can track all your money through debit cars, track your car through EZ Pass and track you through you cellphone. People have been traced by their credit card charges, and the IRS looks at how much money flows through your accounts to decide of somebody is working off the books. Freedom has evaporated.

  7. Aren’t you glad that law enforcement is targeting these ‘sleeper cells’ disguised as children selling lemonade, brownies, Girl Scout cookies, chocolate bars and other low nutrition foods and sugary drinks. Don’t you see? Al-Qaeda is attacking us right now! They are trying to make us all fat and ruin our economy by getting us to spend all of our money on junk food!

    If we don’t shut down these stands run by children (terrorists), they will win! It will truly be “Death to America (by chocolate)”.

    1. 17 incidents in “blue” states & 7 in “red.” Doesn’t seem all that illuminating to me. IMO this is less a partisan issue than bureaucracy & licensing gone mad.

  8. It is not that you cannot operate these stands, it is that they will not let you.

    If you try, they will physically assault you and destroy your belongings.

    If you resist, they will hurt, maim, and even kill you.

    And this is all for lemonade.

    It’s their fault, not yours…

    And you are not obliged to these people one bit, regardless of all the silly rituals called legislation they might pull.

  9. Thanks for the heads-up on the Minnesota example. I’m adding it to the map and list right now!

  10. Once upon a time, the Alameda County (CA) Fair featured a 4-H booth selling home-made cakes by the slice, along with small cartons of milk (white and chocolate). Several years back, the nanny state decreed that only cakes prepared by commercial kitchens may be sold. The sad passing of a delicious tradition. Those home-made cakes had greater variety, and also had the commercially unavailable ingredient of love. The booth is still there, but it just is not the same.

    1. So basically the time-honored tradition of bake sales by kids in an effort to raise money for field trips, dances/proms, etc are being kicked by the wayside in order to raise municipal funds via city permits, taxes, and fees paid to the BBB and Chamber of Commerce?

      Government officials scream about people on welfare, food stamps, and unemployment and yet when a child attempt to put into practice the “work for a living” concept, he gets slapped down. This is quite a mixed message, don’t you think?

      1. You got it Nikki, They’d rather these kids forget all about working for a living so when they grow up they will just give up and collect welfare.

    2. Our 4H led kids just participated in an Auction where 100% of the baked goods were made and donated by the Children. At the end the Auctioneer sold off the “extras” – Ha to the Permit Police!

  11. Just thought you’d appreciate a pic of my daughter celebrating Lemonade Freedom Day. She was so successful she went out again today. Yes, we were worried about being hauled away by the authorities. But last I checked, this is AMERICA, land of opportunity (regardless of age)!

  12. This is appaling! I have been reading about all of these poor children having to go through this, and at first I was shocked…now I am sick! This is a time honored American Tradition that is getting trampled over and made into a, dare I say, Communist style country? I was overjoyed to see Lemonade Freedom Day, also my birthday =^.^=

  13. I think both liberals and conservatives can agree that this is ridiculous. Even though, the police may technically be correct in some cases, they have much bigger fish to fry.

    1. Bullies are never “technically” correct even if they are the vaunted police. Don’t they have any discretion? There isn’t one person in any of these police departments who will speak up? The sergeant on duty, the lieutenant, the captain? Not a one of them can stand up and say the police have bigger priorities. The police are no longer connected to the communities they supposedly serve. They are educated in the same hard Leftist institutions that educate the bureaucrats and lawmakers. That’s who the police serve in 21st Century USA.

  14. Nice map and service. I was just informed about the Massachusetts State Police lemonade squad, and while it doesn’t surprise me in Massachusetts, I have to say that there seems to be something more sinister lurking based on the spread of incidents across the country.

    Could it be that under the leadership of the Obama “food stamps” presidency, the thought of introducing children to capitalism using the tried and true lemonade stand is anathema to their dependency cause? How many very successful people started their careers with a lemonade stand, learning the rules of supply/demand, hiring (little brother/sister), payroll, product development, marketing (colorful signs), pricing, customer service and so much more? This is the American way!

    I swear – if anyone tries to tell my kids they can’t have a lemonade stand when they are ready, they will have a serious fight on their hands. The mindset and policies leading to this type of infringement on our liberty are unacceptable in a free society. I hereby declare the “Lemonade Rebellion of 2011”! Semper Fidelis

  15. What is this world coming to? If all we have are lemons, we should make lemonade. Why impose a tax on positive attitudes and resourcefulness?

  16. It is working out, really. They think they are teaching our kids to be submissive. What they are really teaching them is that government is their enemy and the law is a tyrant. Can overthrow really be that far away?

  17. It’s really interesting. Ever see the Verizon commercial with “Suzie’s Lemonade”? Wouldn’t you like your kid to be just that smart in business? Isn’t it the American dream to take nothing, work at it and become someone and make something? It’s all about how she’s successful because of “the right technology”. Forget that… now she needs a permit.

    I think the real question is THIS. Exactly what good would a permit do to help ensure ANYONE’s safety??? I’ll just answer that now and say, “not a damn thing”. We have a lot bigger fish to fry in this country and we should be teaching our kids the value of understanding business, counting, customer service and how nothing comes free… or I guess we could really teach them a lesson about how intrusive government is and how regulated to death they and their kids will be now and in the future.

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