Lemonade stands are a cute, innocent part of summer. Many adults ran lemonade stands as children and don’t mind paying $1 for a tiny cup of powdered lemonade, more for the cuteness and nostalgia than an actual desire for lemonade. That’s why the Internet was so furious this week to hear that a little girl in London was reduced to tears and hit with a very big fine for the crime of operating a lemonade stand without a permit.
According to The Evening Standard, the five-year-old girl had set up a table not far from her home in East London to sell glasses of homemade lemonade for 1 pound apiece. She’d been out there for half an hour and had just about sold all her lemonade when suddenly a group of four council enforcement officials came up to her, turned on their body cameras, and read the little girl a long legal statement about how what she was doing was a crime.
Then they handed her father a 150-pound fine (approximately $200 USD).
The little girl sobbed the whole way home.
Her father, business school professor Andre Spicer, quickly packed up and took her home for comforting. He said they could get a permit and do it again later, but she told him lemonade stands were too scary.
In an Op-Ed in The Telegraph, Spicer wrote that he probably should have known that a permit was required, but he figured nobody would actually care, because a five-year-old selling lemonade was “hardly a public health hazard.”
Nobody likes seeing little kids cry, and now the Internet is furious on the little entrepreneur’s behalf. The public response has been overwhelmingly on the side of not making little kids cry, and the council has since apologized to the little girl and her father. They promised to do away with the fine, which a representative said should never have been levied in the first place.
“We expect our enforcement officers to show common sense and to use their powers sensibly,” a council spokesperson said. “This clearly did not happen.”