SANTA ANA — A 10-year-old entrepreneur facing the shutdown of her popular lemonade stand because of permit costs has crowdfunded enough to pay to go legitimate.
Anabelle Lockwood has raised $3,375 through a GoFundMe page, more than the $2,500 she was asked to pay for various permits and equipment requested by the Orange County Health Care Agency.
Anabelle’s gourmet lemonade became so popular that she was offered jobs at weddings and other events, forcing her parents — and county officials — to ponder whether she was still legally allowed to operate the stand.
The young go-getter has to pay $200 for the county-issued permit to sell lemonade, but much more to upgrade to commercial standing.
A commercial beverage cart costs between $500 to $800, while four commercial-grade beverage dispensers come at $100 each. A licensed kitchen rental costs at least $75, with another $500 deposit for use of the kitchen and $500 for liability insurance.
Anabelle is currently selling her lemonade at fairs and carnivals, her Loco Lemon Facebook page says.
Rachel Selleck, public affairs officer at Orange County's Health Care Agency, told the Northern California Record that officials had "several meetings with the parents and are currently awaiting plan submission for a mobile food cart."
At this time a permit has not been issued, Selleck said.
"Based on California Retail Food Code, anyone selling food to the public is required to get a permit," she said. "However, the Health Care Agency bases its investigatory and regulatory efforts on those actions that pose the greatest risk to public health."
But Selleck then added, "We focus our efforts there in order to protect the community, not on commodities like lemonade (which is very acidic and kills bacteria), pre-packaged candies, and Girl Scout Cookies — which are considered low-risk foods that are less likely to cause food-borne illness."
Mary Parsons, chair of the Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce, said it does seem “a bit much” for the young girl to operate her lemonade stand.
“For a lemonade stand it does seem a bit much but I guess you have to consider the health aspect,” Parsons, a friend of the family, told the Record.
Parsons said Anabelle and her parents are in the process of getting the permit and the commercial-grade equipment needed to satisfy inspectors.
“As a matter of fact, she has actually gotten enough to pay for the permits.” Parsons said, adding that these are the county health department's requirements.
“This is out of our hands,” she said. “She did not know that she needed these requirements, but she knew once it came to light with all the media attention."
And with it, Anabelle decided to go for the license.
“Anabelle and The Loco Lemon are going legit and need to raise funds to upgrade her cart and get proper permits and licenses so she can expand her gourmet lemonade stand business,” Chanel Rene, her mother, wrote on the GoFund Me page.
“It all started on a hot summer day in June,” Rene wrote. “Anabelle spent the night before squeezing lemons and rendering berry sauce. The next day we wheeled out the cart her dad had made her for her 10th birthday, and set up near our home. We were amazed at the amount of people who stopped by to try her lemonade. She was on cloud nine and super excited to try again the following weekend.”
Three days later the family received a letter from the Homeowners Owners’ Association, Rene said. The letter claimed the lemonade stand was "a safety hazard,” and that Anabelle was forbidden to set up her stand again in her family's townhome complex.
“At first we were seriously bummed,” Rene wrote. “We spent so much time on the stand, and we still had eight pounds of lemons left.”
Daughter and mother posted on Facebook, asking whether any friends had a home they could set up shop at.
“The response was overwhelming! We set up the next weekend at a home, then a farm, then a fireworks stand. Sold out each day!” Rene wrote.
That is when Anabelle knew she was on to something, her mother wrote. The Loco Lemon, a quality gourmet product that helps build relationships with families and businesses in the community, was born, Rene said.
“She has setup her lemonade stand for charities. She squeezes every lemon, and tests every fresh-fruit flavor," her mother wrote. “Her hard work is finally paying off! She has been asked to cater local Fountain Valley events and even weddings.”
The only setback, Rene said, is that Anabelle has become so popular that she reached the radar of the Orange County health department and needs the permits. The cost to get started is approximately $3,500 and then about $500 a year.
“As a small business owner myself, I know that this isn't much to start a potentially successful business,” Rene wrote. “But to a 10 year old, it seems like a million. We are asking all of our friends, family and supporters to donate what you can... and in exchange, we have some great prizes available.”
Rene added this venture is more than just a lemonade stand.
“This isn't just another business venture... it's becoming a life lesson for a young ambitious entrepreneur," Rene wrote. "She will be able to do so much more in the community as well as for charity and at school events to help others. She's extremely passionate about her business, and we are so proud of her for creating something that so many others can enjoy!”