We heard about the lemonade stand later, of course, as it was several blocks from where the rest of us lived, but it was only a couple of houses from Herb Collins. He had to go there. He couldn't resist.
The stand was set up by Heather and Tim Naismith, a brother/sister team whose ages added together wouldn't hit 18. Herb watched them set it up on that hot afternoon and finally couldn't stand it. He had to have some fun.
The lemonade was fifty cents, a bargain in anyone's book, as canned soda pop is running about a buck these days. And anyone can see that a lemonade stand set up by two youngsters is something to be encouraged. The free enterprise system at its very best. Ingenuity. American spirit. Besides, those Naismith kids are kinda cute, having worked so hard to get the lemonade made and the card table set up out under the tree in front.
Herb explained later that what he was really setting out to do, besides giving the kids some business, was to teach them a few harmless lessons in how to succeed in retail. Years ago, before he got into the trucking business, Herb ran a pawn shop in the city. He was known to be a sharp trader, and he delighted in telling us how little he paid for things and how much he sold them for.
"Hi kids," he told them. "Pretty good lemonade?"
"The best, Mr. Collins," Heather said.
"So ... fifty cents a glass? Well, all right, I'll have a glass."
He put down fifty cents and they filled a tall paper cup nearly to the brim for him. It was good lemonade.
"So how much for four glasses of lemonade?"
Tim did some silent figuring. "Two dollars, sir."
"Well, that's the retail price, of course," Herb said, "but now we're buying in bulk. What you do when someone wants to buy in bulk is you adjust the price. I think I should be able to buy four glasses of lemonade at, say, forty cents a glass. What do you think?"
The kids whispered in each other's ears.
"Mr. Collins," said Heather, "if you buy four glasses for forty cents each, how much would you expect to pay for a dozen glasses?"
Heartened by their interest in business, Herb said, "Oh, probably about thirty cents a glass, I guess. You have to make allowances for volume, you see."
"Good," said Heather. "We'll sell you a dozen glasses of lemonade, then, because we want to sell a lot of it, and we'll only charge you $3.60 for them."
Herb pulled out the money.
"But you'll have to drink them all here," Heather said. "We don't have a license for carry-out."
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