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What’s better than a cold glass of lemonade in the summer sun?  With summer upon us, lemonade stands are in the news once again.  Texas passed a law permitting the sale of lemonade or other nonalcoholic drinks at stands on private property.  How does North Carolina handle lemonade stands?  Previously discussed by Lindley Law, perhaps it is time for a refresher on the legality of this refreshment.


Laws, Permits, and Ordinances, Oh My!


Setting up a lemonade stand may seem like it should be simple; however, the regulations young entrepreneurs must understand and comply with may leave a sour taste.


Some states require a business license, obtained by registering a business with the Secretary of State and receiving approval to conduct business.  The North Carolina state government website provides useful tips to determine if registering a business is required (hint: it almost certainly is).


In North Carolina, certain counties also require Public Health approval.  Conversely, in Mecklenburg County, “temporary food establishments” – which can include lemonade stands – are not required to obtain a permit from Mecklenburg County Public Health.


North Carolina lemonade stands may also need to comply with local fire codes.  For example, if a lemonade stand is covered by a tent or canopy in excess of 400 square feet, Mecklenburg County requires the Charlotte Fire Department to issue a permit in advance of use.  For uncovered or small stands, however, Mecklenburg County does not impose any fire code requirements.


Don’t forget to check the local zoning ordinance.  If a lemonade stand is set up on private property, such as the driveway or front yard of a home, the lemonade slingers will likely only need permission from the homeowner.  However, if the stand occupies public property, such as a sidewalk or street corner, the juice jockeys may be at risk of violating zoning ordinances.


Finally, be wary of self-employment taxes, which require income of $400 or more to be reported.  With the right location in a hot Charlotte summer, there may be more than a few Form 1040s submitted by sales-savvy schoolchildren.


Discouraged? Feeling like life is handing more than a fair share of lemons, and making lemonade would be legally unfeasible?  Help is available.  Food company Kraft Heinz founded Country Time Legal-Ade to assist with any fines for failure to comply with the many rules and requirements imposed on lemonade stands.  What a refreshing idea!


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