Ohio Regulators Could Shut Down Your Child’s Lemonade Stand

Ohio Regulators Could Shut Down Your Child’s Lemonade Stand

As states around the country pass laws to protect kids’ lemonade stands against overreaching local regulations, Ohio’s legal landscape remains murky.

The lemonade stand is a quintessential part of summer for Ohio children.

But municipal regulations sometimes prohibit operating one without a permit – and it’s often unclear when a permit is required – leaving families in a legal grey area.

While some states have clarified this uncertainty by passing laws explicitly exempting kids’ lemonade stands from any licensing requirements, Ohio has continued to leave lemonade stands in limbo. That means young entrepreneurs are subject to a complicated patchwork of state, county, and municipal regulations.

In Cleveland, city code provides that “[n]o person shall engage in vending anywhere in the City without a vendor’s license,” which costs $60. Vending “upon or from private property” additionally requires a $75 permit, even if “the vendor is the owner of the private property.” The only relevant exception to these requirements is for “sales by charitable organizations in conjunction with solicitations for charity.” But most ordinary children operating lemonade stands don’t count as “charitable organizations.”

Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, it is unlawful to “engage in the business or trade of itinerant vendor … without first obtaining a license from the city treasurer,” which costs $150 per day.

On the other hand, Columbus provides broader exemptions that appear to protect most lemonade stands. Columbus does not require a permit for any charitable solicitations that are expected to raise less than $500, or that are “for the relief of any individual or family, specified by name at the time of the solicitation.”

Additionally, Ohio state law provides special rules for “cottage foods” prepared at home, although this is not helpful to young lemonade stand operators because cottage foods must be carefully labeled with information about the product, an onerous task for a child simply trying to sell some lemonade.

One thing is for certain: The legal landscape for lemonade stands in Ohio is nebulous and complex, filled with overlapping and interlocking rules at the state, county, and municipal levels.

The Ohio legislature and Gov. DeWine should explicitly protect kid-run lemonade stands from state and local regulations, so that all children can exercise their entrepreneurial spirit and participate in a cherished American pastime without fear.

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