A man is fighting to shut down a boy’s lemonade stand in a Dunedin, Florida, neighborhood. The 61-year-old thinks the 12-year-old’s business venture is causing too much noise and is bringing down the value of property. T.J. Guerrero tested a number of locations in the area before settling on Patricia Avenue and San Salvador Drive between the hours of 3 pm and 7 pm.
T.J. Guerrero serves cookies and strawberry Country Time at his lemonade stand. A neighbor gave T.J. permission to stake a homemade sign in the grass and use a white card table to sell his refreshments. The boy says “it’s all about profit.” He also earns money mowing lawns. T.J. uses the money to pay cell phone bills, go on trips with his grandfather, and have dinners with his mother. He’s also purchased an iPod with the money he’s earned.
Tampa Bay Times reports that Doug Wilkey, 61, made waves to stop the boy’s lemonade stand in his neighborhood. The man claims that the boy, who attends Palm Harbor Middle School, has an “illegal business.” In fact, Wilkey has emailed City Hall a total of four times the past two years in the hopes that authorities will shut T.J.’s lemonade business down. Above all that, he says there’s too much traffic, noise, garbage, and illegal parking. T.J. lives four houses down from Wilkey. His lemonade stand is near the man’s home, however.
“Please help me regain my quiet home and neighborhood,” Wilkey wrote.
Greg Rice, planning and development director of Dunedin, responds:
“We’re not in the business of trying to regulate kids like that; nor do we want to do any code enforcement like that. We are not out there trying to put lemonade stands out of business.”
The man has put a lot of time and effort into shutting down the boy’s lemonade stand. The report goes on to say that Wilkey has “contacted city commissioners in May 2013 and followed up in October, then again in March and June this year.”
Wilkey further argues that T.J. Guerrero’s friends hang out at the stand with their skateboards, and he often hears profanity from them. He says they also threw rocks and other items he has to pick up before mowing his grass. He adds that fireworks the boys set off have scared his dog. Another child allegedly ran his bicycle into the back of Wilkey’s truck and damaged it.
T.J. and another neighbor disagree with Wilkey that people park in front of his home to buy lemonade and cookies. A few neighbors have allowed customers to park in their driveways in support of T.J.’s business.
Wilkey writes in one of his many emails to City Hall that the “city could possibly face repercussion in the event someone became ill from spoiled/contaminated food or drink sales.”
He writes in another email:
“If this were a once a year event by a couple kids to earn a little money for a holiday or something, I would not have a problem with it. I am very worried about the value of my home, which is why I built in a residential area, not a business area.”
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s community police officer has made at least two visits to help settle confrontations. Deputy Wayne Gross says he asked neighbors how they felt about the 12-year-old boy’s lemonade stand, and they were fine with the 10 to 30 customers has daily; they were amazed anyone was complaining about T.J.’s business.
MTV News calls Doug Wilkey a “cranky old man” in the the title of their report.
T.J. is said to be good at customer service, multitasking, filling orders for cars lining up, and does it all with a smile. He charges $1 for lemonade and 50 cents for a cookie.
When T.J. turns 14, he looks forward to applying for a bagger position at Publix. The situation in the neighborhood with Wilkey isn’t bothering him one bit. He has a lot of people on his side!
[Image via Tampa Bay Times]