Kids set up shop

The first Lemonade Day in Elkhart is May 5.

Posted on May 4, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

ELKHART — When fourth-graders Riley DeHaven and Sydney Cripe last set up a lemonade stand, their parents gave them some money to buy supplies for the stand near their homes. This time around, they’ve taken out loans, organized a business plan and will be selling their three varieties of lemonade in a mall.

Riley and Sydney are two of some 500 local kids who will be participating in Elkhart’s first Lemonade Day on Saturday. The national program encourages children to develop a business plan for a lemonade stand, with help from an adult mentor, and then put that plan into action on the designated Lemonade Day.

Local businessman Amish Shah has worked with other business leaders to create the local event.

“To me, this is so much more than a lemonade stand,” he said. “This is a way of saying Elkhart is back, and the best way to do that is just to come out and support these kids and really patronize these kids’ stands.”

Stands will be set up from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. around Elkhart, including at the Concord Mall, Wellfield Gardens, YMCA, Tolson Center, throughout Elkhart parks and in downtown Elkhart.

Participating kids and teens received a workbook that guides them on properly setting up their stand and business. The workbook takes the young entrepreneur through the planning and budgeting process and also encourages them to look for creative recipes and consider advertising. The program also urges participants to use their profit to give back to the community and to open a savings account.

Riley and Sydney have given their stand an animal theme and plan to give some of the income from their “Slick Dog Lemonade” stand to the Elkhart County Humane Society. Sydney would also like to buy a better cage for her two ferrets and Riley would like to buy a cushion for her dog and maybe a fish.

First, though, they’ll need to take care of their business expenses.

They need to pay back their investors (their parents) the $10 loans they took out, plus a bit of interest, the two explained. They’ll also need to pay Riley’s sister for carrying around signs Saturday advertising their stand.

The two Pinewood Elementary students are in Jill Szyarto’s fourth-grade high ability class. Szyarto’s students created a business plan for a lemonade stand as a math project, and students could then chose to actually participate in Saturday’s event.

The decision was an easy one for Riley and Sydney, who said they’re excited for Saturday.

Shah was hoping kids would be enthusiastic about the event, but said earlier this week that “it’s really just been overwhelming how involved and how excited these kids are.”

The project also has the girls thinking about running a larger business someday when they’re older.

Sydney would like to open a pet shop, while Riley would like to open a bakery, where she said she’ll probably sell lemonade.

One could feel the excitement of the weekend building up at Thursday evenings judging contest. Many of the participants gathered with their stands in Concord Mall’s Conference Center to be judged for the Best Tasting Lemonade, Most Creative and Most Innovative Stand.

There were many reasons for the kids to be exicted. Some were excited at the prospect of having some walking-around money after the experience was through. Blake Forte, a 12-year-old, hoped to surpass his goal of $230 and has enjoyed learning how to run a business. He even set up a Facebook event to advertise his stand, the Citrus Pub.

Others, like the Concord Intermediate tandem of Colin Rost and Logan Johnson, were most proud of the work they put into their stands. “I liked nailing all the wood with the nail gun,” Rost joked.

But mainly, the kids were most looking forward to helping out the community. Kobi Stutsman, who’s Kobi’s Best Lemonade won second place in the Most Creative category, looked forward to giving part of his profit to charity. Sophomore Conner Lantz and freshman Samantha Clifford of Northridge echoed that sentiment.

“My favorite part is coming up with new ideas and working as a team to better the community,” Clifford said and her teammate agreed, saying, “It’s about giving back.”

To learn more, visit www.elkhart.lemonadeday.org or search for Lemonade Day Elkhart on Facebook.

Truth reporter Nick Wesman contributed to this article.

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