Credit: Madgie Robinson/Fresh Take Georgia
‘Georgia Lemonade Stand Act’ aims to exempt kids from obtaining permits
When Temima and Jack Genauer asked their dad if they could run a lemonade stand over the summer, Rami Genauer said sure, but only if they operated it like a real business.
Temima, 12, and Jack, 9, conducted market research, created the perfect lemonade mix, gathered focus groups to taste their product, advertised their venture and came up with the brand name “Lemonade in the Shade.”
The siblings sold lemonade packets on their front lawn — the part Temima said she enjoyed the most. The young entrepreneurs made $90 each.
Halfway through the summer of 2021, Genauer learned his kids’ business was illegal in Georgia. Current law requires adults and kids to obtain a vendor’s permit and business license, take food handling courses and undergo health inspections. Rather than shutting it down, he let the kids continue.
“They had put in so much work already,” Genauer said, “and I didn’t have the heart to shut it all down, even though I didn’t feel right about it.”
In March 2022, Genauer emailed his state senator, DeKalb Democrat Elena Parent. He explained the current law and why it should change.
The result is “The Georgia Lemonade Act,” which passed the Senate by a vote of 52-2. Parent’s bill would exempt children under the age of 18 from acquiring a license or permit to sell lemonade or other products. Senate Bill 55 would also allow children to skip filing taxes if their revenue does not exceed $5,000 a year.
“It would be better to just let kids have a stand on private property, respect the law, earn these dollars and gain some entrepreneurial skills that will serve them well as adults in the process,” Parent told fellow senators before the bill came up for a Senate vote.
The bill is now in the House. It cleared the Small Business Development House committee unanimously.
But not everyone is on board.
State Sen. Kim Jackson, a Stone Mountain Democrat, voted against the bill saying she wanted to protect local government control. Jackson also said there should be more regulations to ensure public safety.
“I want to be clear — I’m not anti-lemonade stand. I love children. I want what’s best for them,” she said, “and part of me wanting what’s best for them is saying yeah there actually should be some regulations in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children and the community that they’re serving.”
Currently, 15 states have laws that exempt children from obtaining permits or licenses to run small businesses. States like New York and Utah have introduced legislation that would also exempt young entrepreneurs from dealing with the legal process.
While authorities never shut down the Genauers’ lemonade stand, other kids across the state were not so lucky.
Three girls in Helen sold lemonade every 4th of July. But in 2015, police showed up and ended the tradition, shutting down their stand because they lacked the required permits and licenses.
In 2011, police in Midway, closed a lemonade stand run by three girls trying to save money for a day at the water park. They too lacked the business documents to sell lemonade.
Because their lemonade business was successful, Temima and Jack asked their dad if they could sell hot chocolate during the winter of 2021.
It was then that Genauer broke the news to the kids, explaining they had to halt the business. Saddened but also worried, the kids thought the police would arrest their dad.
“I felt like the police were going to come break down our door and haul daddy away to prison,” Temima said.
The Genauers hope the “Georgia Lemonade Stand Act” becomes law so that, come this summer, Temima and Jack, along with other kids in Georgia can legally set up their lemonade stands.
They will find out soon. The state Legislature wraps up its work on March 29.
“I was sad that I found out I couldn’t do it anymore,” Jack said in a state Senate committee hearing on the bill. “That’s why I hope you’ll change the law so kids like me can run a business.”
This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Fresh Take Georgia.