Friday, September 14, 2012

"They Mean Business"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

Ever since the economy turned so sour that a lemon would seem sweet by comparison, I have wondered if there are any entrepreneurs out there with a bold business model that can help get the country back on its feet.

I am happy to report that I recently found two of them. They are Sydney Lippman and Isabella Nuzzo, co-owners of Syd and Izzy’s Lemonade Stand, a budding Fortune 500 corporation headquartered in one of the nation’s top corporate headquarters, my hometown of Stamford, Conn.

I met them on Scofieldtown Road, where Sydney and Isabella, both 10 and fifth-graders at Northeast Elementary School, had set up shop. In a brilliant advertising ploy designed to attract customers quickly, the girls were shouting and waving their arms as I drove down the street.

As a father who remembers when my two young daughters sold lemonade and made more money than I had in my wallet at the time, mainly because the money in my wallet went to buy their lemonade, I turned around and parked near the stand.

“You’re our first customer!” Isabella chirped.

It felt good to get in on the ground floor -- or at least the ground, since that’s where the stand was situated -- of such a promising enterprise.

The girls’ corporate slogan, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” was handsomely hand-lettered on the cardboard sign attached to the front of the stand.

“Did you actually make this lemonade?” I asked the two young entrepreneurs, who also had written “Secret recipe!” on a corner of the sign.

“Yes,” Sydney assured me.

The tycoons explained that they had squeezed the juice of several lemons into water but that it was taking too much time, so they combined their lemonade with a store-bought brand to come up with their now-not-so-secret (sorry, girls) recipe.

It was uniquely delicious. And worth every penny of the 50 cents they charged per cup.

“We were going to charge $2,” Sydney said, “but we thought it would be unfair to overcharge people, so we decided to charge 50 cents.”

If you have a fair price, customers will buy more of your product and you will end up making more money, the girls noted.

I was impressed, not only with their business acumen, but with their approach to customer service.

“In business, you don’t want to be too grumpy to your customers,” Isabella said. “Always smile,” she added with, of course, a smile.

At this moment, a woman and her two young daughters came along and bought three cups of Syd and Izzy’s lemonade.

“This is very good!” the woman exclaimed. Her daughters agreed.

“If you have a quality product,” Sydney confided after they left, “people will buy it.”

“Business leaders and politicians could learn a lot from you girls,” I said. “If they followed your example of combining quality with fair pricing and good customer service, the economy would rebound.”

“We would be happy to give them tips,” said Isabella, who is thinking of selling the bracelets she has made out of soda can pop-top rings. She also has a line of colorful duct tape products, including a pocketbook and a wallet.

“She’s very entrepreneurial,” said Isabella’s mom, Gerri Nuzzo, whose older daughter, Ariana, 14, also is creative and would be part of the corporate team.

When I called back later in the afternoon, Gerri reported that Syd and Izzy’s Lemonade Stand had grossed $10 in two and a half hours, pretty good considering that Scofieldtown is not a heavily traveled road.

“They did all right,” Gerri said.

Sydney’s dad, Craig Lippman, concurred when I spoke with him by phone a couple of days later.

“I’m delighted that my daughter understands the supply-and-demand curve,” said Craig, who works in financial markets for Thomson Reuters. “I’ll go back and cut prices if it will increase business.” He paused and added: “I could learn a lot from these girls. The whole country could.”

Copyright 2012 by Jerry Zezima


Dave Astor said...

Droll, heartwarming, and inspiring column, Jerry. Given the color of lemons, this is "yellow journalism" made positive!

Jerry Zezima said...

Thanks, Dave, for your very refreshing comment. I have always taken a stand for the type of journalism you so colorfully describe. said...

I recently turned 90 lemons into one big lemon - the lemon curd I made so as not to waste the neighbor's "gift." No one told me to cool the lemon muck before adding the egg mixture.

Please ask these little girls for their recipe, Jerry. I'll need it next season! Wonderful, heartwarming story!

XO, Cathy

Jerry Zezima said...

By next season, Cathy, the girls might have their own company, with a recipe book to boot. I'll get it for you. Thanks for your nice comment.

JustRex said...

Makes me think of that commercial where the little girl uses her cell phone to turn a lemonade stand into a Fortune 500 company in the space of an afternoon.

I haven't seen a lemonade stand in ages.

Jerry Zezima said...

Thanks, Darev2005. The commercial will have to be remade with these two girls, even though they weren't using cellphones.