How to Compete with Other Lemonade Stands

Lemons, sugar, water, ice: Lemonade is a pretty humble beverage, but when the dog days of summer hit, an ice-cold cup hits the spot like nothing else. It’s no wonder the lemonade stand is a favorite choice of young entrepreneurs. And since the experience of running a stand teaches kids about business and money management, parents can get excited about lemonade, too. Start at Step 1 to learn how to do your best in the sometimes highly-competitive lemonade market.


  1. Image titled Compete with Other Lemonade Stands Step 1
    Perform market research. Before big businesses start selling a new product or open a new store, they try to find out what customers want and when and where they want it. There is a chance you don’t have the time or money to do a lot of research, but even a little bit helps. If you’ve seen other lemonade stands around your town, talk to the kids who run them and find out how much they sell their lemonade for and what kind of lemonade seems to sell the best; like sweeter or more tart-tasting lemonade. You don’t have to run your stand just like other stands—in fact, you want to make your stand a little different than others to give customers a reason to come to yours—but you’ll have a better chance of success if you know a bit about the business.
  2. Image titled Compete with Other Lemonade Stands Step 2
    Choose the best location. People don’t look up lemonade stands in the phone book, so you have to make sure they can see you. If your house is on a busy street or if you live in a neighborhood with a lot of people, you can set up your stand right at home. Similarly, if you live in an apartment, you may be able to set up right outside the main entrance to your building. Find a place with a lot of traffic, especially foot traffic. If your house isn’t in a good place, ask your parents if they’ll let you set up somewhere else, such as outside a shopping center, on a busy corner near your house, or outside one of your parents’ workplaces, but make sure you don't need a permit!
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    Set the right price. The price you set for a cup of lemonade should depend on three things: the cost of your supplies, the amount people are willing to pay, and the prices offered by competing lemonade stands. You can find out what people are willing to pay by experimenting with the price you charge for a cup of lemonade, but the easiest way to set your price is to see what other stands are charging, and then charge about the same or a little less (maybe even a little more if you offer something better than they do). If you can offer the same quality at a lower price, you’ll get more customers. That said, you want to make sure you’re making a profit. When your parents are buying the supplies, it’s easy to overlook the costs involved, but in the real world you won’t be in business for long if you don’t make a little money (over the cost of the lemonade, cups, ice, and other supplies) on each cup of lemonade you sell. If you can buy your supplies for less than your competition can, you can also sell your lemonade at a lower price. Look for sales and coupons in your local newspaper, and consider buying larger quantities of supplies to get the best deal.
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    Offer the customer a choice. You can entice more customers with different flavors of lemonade, such as pink lemonade or strawberry lemonade. You could even try selling limeade (lemonade, but made with limes instead of lemons). Also consider offering a choice of sizes. If you’re making your own fresh-squeezed lemonade, you might even be able to sell large bottles of it to people. Encourage people to buy larger, more expensive sizes by pricing them so that they cost less per ounce than smaller sizes. You can also increase sales by diversifying your product offerings, either by offering foods, such as baked goods and other snacks, to complement your lemonade sales, or by offering alternatives to lemonade, such as soda or iced tea. If you offer several products, make sure your customers know about them, and if somebody buys a cup of lemonade ask them if they’d like a cookie as well.
  5. Image titled Compete with Other Lemonade Stands Step 5
    Find your niche. So you’ve got the best lemonade in town, but what if other stands have lemonade that’s just as tasty? Set your stand apart from the crowd by providing something a little different. Do you have a special talent, like juggling or telling jokes? Use your talents to make a name for yourself, and customers will buy from you just to see "the kid who juggles the lemons" or "the girl who tells a joke with each cup of lemonade." You might also donate a portion of your profits to charity. Not only is this a nice thing to do, but customers may also be impressed with your generosity (or, as big businesses call it, "social responsibility").
  6. Image titled Compete with Other Lemonade Stands Step 6
    Set up an attractive shop. Your stand will probably rely almost entirely on people who stop in while driving or walking by, so you want your stand to look as clean and attractive as possible or they won’t stop. You can buy pre-made stands now, but people may probably still like it better if you make your own, as long as it looks good. Use a new-looking table, or use a clean tablecloth on an older table. Letter your signs neatly and in large letters, and clearly and attractively display all the items you have for sale (if you’re selling more than just lemonade) and their prices. Add some color to your stand with helium balloons or other decorations, and be creative. Most importantly, keep your stand and the area around it neat and sparkling clean. You might also have a line of cars if you keep it nice!
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    Advertise your stand. Write up signs to stick to trees or posts in your neighborhood, especially if your stand is just off a main road. You can also ask a friend to stick a couple brightly colored signs on himself or herself and have him or her ride a bicycle around the neighborhood, advertising your lemonade stand. Be sure to have a big, neatly written sign in front of your stand. Don’t spend a lot of time or money on signs away from your stand. Your best advertising will be your location and word-of-mouth from satisfied customers.
  8. Image titled Compete with Other Lemonade Stands Step 8
    Provide exceptional customer service. Repeat customers (those who come back over and over again) will probably be your stands main source of income, especially if you set up shop in a residential neighborhood (at or near your house). You can get people to come back to your stand by treating them right:
    • Be pleasant. Greet customers with a smile when they come to your stand, chat with them while they’re there (if they want to chat), and thank them for their business. Make it a point to remember repeat customers’ names, and greet them by name or title (Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.) when they show up, and offer them a free cup of lemonade or some other bonus every once in a while.
    • Be professional. No matter how badly your day may be going, you always want to look like you love selling lemonade and that the lemonade business is booming. Customers don’t want to hear about your problems, they want lemonade. And your customers are busy people, too. They don’t want to have to wait for their refreshing beverage, so always have enough lemonade and other supplies ready, and make sure you can quickly and accurately make change for customers. If business is good, and you have a line of customers, apologize for the wait and show that you’re working hard to serve people. Finally, you don’t have to wear a suit, but keep your appearance neat and clean.
    • Be accommodating. If a customer doesn’t like the lemonade for some reason, listen to them to find out why, apologize, fix the problem, and offer them a free cup or refund. Unsatisfied customers may become your best customers if you impress them with your desire to "make things right."
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    Pay attention to quality. If you make great lemonade, people will come back for it and choose your stand over others. If you want to make your own lemonade, you can ask your parents how, or you can find tons of recipes on the Internet. Whether you make your own or buy from the store, ask friends and family to try your lemonade before you start selling it, and listen to your customers’ comments or complaints once you start selling. Make sure you give people enough ice to keep the lemonade cold, and don’t serve lemonade that’s been sitting out for too long or that has dirt or—yuck!—bugs in it.
  10. Image titled Compete with Other Lemonade Stands Step 10
    Keep track of your sales and experiment a bit. You can learn a lot from running a lemonade stand, and the more you learn the more money your stand will make. If you’re not selling much lemonade, figure out why. Some factors, such as the weather, you can’t change, but others, such as price and type of lemonade, you can. Use some trial-and-error to make your stand the best it can be, and learn from your mistakes—when life gives you lemons make lemonade.
  11. Image titled Compete with Other Lemonade Stands Step 11
    One word, teamwork. Instead of going solo, grab a friend (preferably one who is actually interested in your stand). Besides being more fun, this way you can have one person running down the street advertising and one person remaining at the stand to serve customers.


  • If business is booming, and you’ve always got a line of people waiting for lemonade, consider hiring a friend to help you. If you can provide faster service, customers are more likely to come back. You’ll probably have more fun with a friend, too.
  • If there is competition, put "gourmet" or "secret recipe" on your sign
  • If you locate your stand away from your house, you need to make sure you can easily access your supplies. Be sure to bring coolers to keep extra ice, for example.
  • Put ice, slices of lemon, or even mini cocktail umbrellas in your cups, and use pretty but disposable cups. Recyclable cups will have you being able to advertise "green".
  • Make your signs big and bold! 'Official' street signs like stop signs are much larger than you probably realize. Thin letters (such as letters you might draw with a magic marker) are not readable from the road. Consider drawing each letter as an outline and filling them in with a bold color like black or blue. As an alternative, cut letters out of construction paper and paste them to your sign.
  • If your stand does really well, you can open up additional stands managed by your friends. Don’t put your branches too close together, however, or they will be competing against themselves. Each new stand should reach new potential customers.
  • Weather can make or break your lemonade sales. If it’s unseasonably cool out one day, or if it’s raining, you might not even want to open your stand.
  • Think up new recipes that taste good.
  • Make a drive thru for driving customers, or at least ask those in a hurry if they want a lid.
  • There are a lot of ways for kids to make money besides selling lemonade. If there are already enough lemonade stands in your neighborhood—in business people would say the market is "saturated"—or if you just don’t like to sell lemonade, consider other options, such as mowing lawns (if you’re old and strong enough), washing cars, or other "odd jobs."
  • Try to put your stand at an intersection on the road. People going left, right, forward, or backward will see you.
  • 1 gallon (3.8 L) of lemonade should have at least 6 lemons, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, and 2 quarts of water and ice
  • Give customers lots of choices, such as strawberry or peach lemonade. Sell baked good, candy, or other sweet treats to go along with your tasty drinks!
  • Be sure to properly advertise your stand. Post signs throughout your neighborhood.
  • Take feedback from customers, family, and your friends. Ask them if it needs to be sweeter, less sweet, too hot, etc.
  • Make sure to have other things available to buy, like cookies, granola bars, fruit snacks, or the surprisingly popular animal crackers. Some people may just be hungry, not necessarily thirsty.


  • Sometimes somebody else nearby will be able to sell the same quality lemonade at a lower price than you can, even if you try to cut the cost of supplies. This may be because their parents are paying for everything and don’t care whether the stand actually makes enough money to pay for the supplies. In the business world, this is called a "subsidy," and if your parents don’t also "subsidize" you, you can’t compete. It’s not fair to you, but if you can’t match the price and you can’t find another good reason for customers to buy from you, you may not be able to stay in business. However, you can try to sell different products such as other drinks and food, as stated in one of the steps.
  • Make sure to set up your stand in a safe location. This is especially important if you go somewhere other than your house. Always check with your parents, and if they say "no," to a certain place, understand that they’ve got a good reason. You may also have to check with the owners of the location where you plan to set up your stand if it is not going to be in a public area. For example, if you want to setup a stand in the parking lot of a store, you may need permission from the store owner/manager. If you plan to set up a stand in front of somebody else's house, you may need permission from the people living at that house to do so.
  • Don’t badmouth your competition. People don’t like it when you say bad things about other kids, and they might feel sympathetic for your competitors if you do. Instead, take pride in your own stand and make sure people know that you make great lemonade.
  • DO NOT vandalize or intentionally sabotage your competitors.They have as much as every right to sell lemonade just as you do.If their lemonade stand is better,it's just better.
  • If you’re selling food, you’ll want to check on your local health ordinances (rules). Restaurants, street vendors, and other businesses that sell food have to meet strict standards for how they prepare their food, and they have to get special licenses from the city or state government. Lemonade stands almost never have to worry about these laws, because officials typically don’t worry about very small businesses run by kids, but if you’re selling food or if your stand gets very big, you may run into trouble.

Things You'll Need

  • A lemonade stand (See How to Open a Lemonade Stand for details.)
  • An adult
  • Lemons
  • Pitcher
  • Ice and bucket
  • Sign
  • Table
  • Tablecloth
  • Paper cups
  • Money (to make change)
  • Box
  • A big smile

Sources and Citations

  • Worksheet for calculating lemonade stand profit

Article Info

Categories: Youth Businesses