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Cashing in on life's lemons: Inaugural Lemonade Day in Starkville draws young entrepreneurs from across area

 

Angelica Vaughn helps her daughter, Ka'nia Lucious, put a top on a lemonade cup for Joe Fountain while his mother, Amy, watches. Lucious set up a lemonade stand in downtown Starkville for Lemonade Day, which aimed to teach business skills to students grades K-7.

Angelica Vaughn helps her daughter, Ka'nia Lucious, put a top on a lemonade cup for Joe Fountain while his mother, Amy, watches. Lucious set up a lemonade stand in downtown Starkville for Lemonade Day, which aimed to teach business skills to students grades K-7. Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff

 

Kadie Eldridge, left, and Abigail McTaggart pour lemonade at their

Kadie Eldridge, left, and Abigail McTaggart pour lemonade at their "Lemony Spickets" stand on MSU's campus Saturday. Their stand was one of dozens set up in the area for Starkville's first Lemonade Day.
Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff

 

Jeffrey Rupp

Jeffrey Rupp

 

 

Alex Holloway

 

 

Ka'nia Lucious kept a sharp eye for passersby in front of her lemonade stand on Main Street Saturday. 

 

Lucious, a third-grader student from West Lowndes Elementary School, set up her stand for Starkville's first Lemonade Day in front of R. Tabb and Company Boutique and Gifts downtown. Lucious approached just about everyone she saw, asking if they wanted lemonade, or some of the cookies and bubble gum she was selling at her stand. Some declined, while others said they'd return after stopping at a nearby store or restaurant. 

 

It didn't take long for Lucious to nab a customer, as Amy Fountain approached the stand with her son, Joe, in tow and a bag of quarters in-hand. Amy ordered lemonade and some cookies, which Lucious promptly served in exchange for $1.25. 

 

Lucious' stand was just one of dozens set up across Starkville for the city's inaugural Lemonade Day. Started as a national event nine years ago, Lemonade Day has encouraged kids in 61 cities across the United States and Canada to set up lemonade stands as a way to learn about entrepreneurship and other business skill such as financial literacy, marketing and goal-setting. 

 

In Starkville, Lemonade Day is a collaboration between Mississippi State University's College of Business and Entrepreneurship Center and Castle Properties owned by developer Mark Castleberry. It aimed to draw students in grades K-7 who could register online to participate. 

 

Angelica Vaughn, Lucious' mother, said they learned about the event through school and thought it was a great learning opportunity. 

 

"She has to do the math," Vaughn said. "I just hold the money. I help to fix the lemonade, but I'm the money holder. She has ... add and subtract, and multiply if they've got multiples. It's great." 

 

Vaughn said Lemonade Day also had value as a way for Lucious to learn about saving her earnings. They set a goal of earning $100 Saturday. If Lucious' stand reached that, Vaughn said she'll tithe $10 to her church, put $50 in savings and keep $40 to spend for herself. 

 

Amy Fountain, after stopping at Lucious' stand, enjoyed going from stand-to-stand downtown to see what students were doing. 

 

"It's a fun way to teach kids about entrepreneurship and money and running a business," Fountain said. "It sure is a fun touch to downtown, too." 

 

 

 

Slow, rainy start 

 

The day started slow with morning rains dampening businesses. But things picked up as the weather cleared around midday and more people ventured about town.  

 

On Mississippi State's campus, another lemonade stand, called "The Lemony Spickets" set up near Oak Hall. Spearheaded by Kadie Eldridge and Abigail and James McTaggart, all of West Point, the Lemony Spickets hoped to take advantage of a bustling campus for MSU's annual move-in day. 

 

Samantha Knall, Eldrige's mother and aunt to the McTaggarts, said they learned about Lemonade Day from MSU's website and decided to sign up. After that, it was a matter of determining which flavors to use -- Abigail said they tested eight flavors and settled on watermelon, limeade and traditional lemonade -- and marketing for the stand. 

 

The Lemony Spickets are donating their proceeds to the West Point animal shelter, thanks to personal inspirations -- Eldridge's dog, Matilda, and the McTaggarts' cat, Gizmo, are rescues.  

 

Knall said Lemonade Day has been a learning opportunity for the children. Part of that was figuring out how to set prices. A regular lemonade was $1 for a medium and $2 for a large, while flavored lemonades were $1.50 for a medium and $3 for a large. 

 

"We used the Lemonade Day budgeting sheet to figure out what our costs were going to be," Knall said. "Then we figured out how much it would need to be in order to recoup all of that and make a reasonable profit. There's been lots of math." 

 

Lemonade Day made an immediate impact on the Lemony Spickets, who were already talking Saturday about their plans for next year's stand. 

 

Eldridge said she's already thinking of some future classes to take based on her experiences. 

 

"I'm definitely taking marketing when I get to high school," she said.  

 

 

 

'Selling, selling, selling' 

 

Jeffrey Rupp, director of outreach for the MSU College of Business, said he was thrilled with Saturday's participation --especially with poor weather lingering in the area. 

 

"There have been more stands than I would've guessed, given the showers," he said. "I've seen kids out with raincoats and they are selling, selling, selling. 

 

"We anticipated, we hoped for, 12 to 15 stands," he added. "The official count (Saturday) morning was 64. That's crazy." 

 

Looking ahead, Rupp said the next goal is to grow Lemonade Day throughout the Golden Triangle. The event already drew regional participation to Starkville, and Rupp said there was at least one stand each set up in Columbus and New Hope in Lowndes County. 

 

While the stands have autonomy to do what they want with their savings, Rupp said participants are encouraged to keep some for themselves and share some, whether that's giving to a charity or putting some back into the community in other ways. 

 

"It's about learning business principles, but also why it's important to give some money back to your community," he said. 

 

Rupp said Lemonade Day came together in the span of about three months, after Castleberry approached the College of Business about holding the event in the region. Rupp said the event seemed a natural fit for the Entrepreneurship Center's mission.  

 

In the weeks that followed, Rupp -- and the Lemonade Day mascot, "Lemmy" -- spearheaded a promotional campaign to spread awareness of the event. That included stops at schools and churches, and even at a meeting of the Starkville Board of Aldermen. He said they got a warm reception wherever they went. 

 

"Nobody said no," Rupp said. "The shop owners downtown said they wanted to get involved, on campus they said they wanted stands -- it was truly amazing how the community got involved."

 

 

 

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