Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dunedin neighbor is sour on boy's lemonade stand (w/video)

DUNEDIN — It seemed like a scene out of a Norman Rockwell painting. T.J. Guerrero served cookies and strawberry Country Time at his lemonade stand with a wave and a smile.

The 12-year-old had tested various locations and hours of operation before settling on 3 to 7 p.m. at Patricia Avenue and San Salvador Drive. He got a neighbor's permission to pitch a homemade yellow sign in the grass and sell his fare from Tupperware on a white card table.

"It's all about profit," said T.J., who has paired his lemonade earnings with lawn-mowing cash for an iPod, snacks, his cellphone bill, trips with his grandfather and dinners with his mother.

But the boy's entrepreneurial spirit has rankled at least one neighbor, who has emailed City Hall at least four times in two years and asked law enforcement to shut T.J. down.

Doug Wilkey contends that the Palm Harbor Middle School student's year-round operation is an "illegal business" that causes excessive traffic, noise, trash, illegal parking and other problems that reduce his property values.

"Please help me regain my quiet home and neighborhood," Wilkey, 61, wrote.

"We're not in the business of trying to regulate kids like that; nor do we want to do any code enforcement like that," said Dunedin planning and development director Greg Rice. "We are not out there trying to put lemonade stands out of business."

It's unclear how many hours government agencies have dedicated to the rancor.

According to Dunedin records, Wilkey contacted city commissioners in May 2013 and followed up in October, then again in March and June this year.

T.J. lives four doors down from Wilkey but places his stand on the shaded sidewalk in front of Rodney Shrode's corner lot home next door to Wilkey's.

Wilkey wrote that T.J's friends made noise as they lingered near the stand with their skateboards. The boys used profanity, threw rocks and debris that Wilkey had to pick up before mowing, and set off fireworks that scared his dog, he said. Once, a child accidentally ran his bicycle into the back of Wilkey's parked truck, damaging it.

Wilkey also said T.J.'s customers park in front of his home, an assertion that T.J. and Shrode deny.

T.J. said his longest line ever was five people. At least two neighbors said customers are allowed to park in their driveways.

"The city could possibly face repercussion in the event someone became ill from spoiled/contaminated food or drink sales," Wilkey wrote in one 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," he said in another. "I am very worried about the value of my home, which is why I built in a residential area, not a business area."

An increasingly frustrated Wilkey, who declined to speak with the Tampa Bay Times, wrote this summer that the stand was back "AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!"

A Pinellas County sheriff's community police officer has been out at least twice in an attempt to defuse the conflict.

Deputy Wayne Gross polled neighbors and found that they were fine with the 10 to 30 customers T.J. said he sees daily and were baffled that anyone complained.

"I had one when I was a little kid. We all did," said Vincent Titara, 24. "I think it's cute."

Because of Wilkey's complaints about his friends, T.J. goes it alone, happily conversing with customers who stop for $1 cups of lemonade and 50-cent cookies. He sprints between his stand and the windows of paused drivers like a seasoned fast-food worker, scooping ice from a cooler into red plastic cups.

Repeat customer Dan Wright, a truck driver working on a project nearby, had T.J. fill up his Gatorade bottle.

"I tried the strawberry before and it's perfect," he told T.J., removing his hard hat and wiping his brow. "That's what it's about. He's willing to work."

T.J. said he's not deterred by the conflict. Rather, he's counting the months until he turns 14.

Then he can apply for a bagger position at Publix.

Contact Keyonna Summers at (727) 445-4153 or ksummers@tampabay.com. Follow @KeyonnaSummers.

T.J. Guerrero, 12, sells a lemonade to a repeat customer, truck driver Dan Wright, who is working on a construction project nearby. “He’s willing to work,” Wright says.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

T.J. Guerrero, 12, sells a lemonade to a repeat customer, truck driver Dan Wright, who is working on a construction project nearby. “He’s willing to work,” Wright says.

Dunedin neighbor is sour on boy's lemonade stand (w/video) 08/23/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 6:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Search for missing Army helicopter crew suspended in Hawaii

    Military

    HONOLULU — Officials have suspended the search for five Army soldiers who were aboard a helicopter that crashed during offshore training in Hawaii last week.

    Water safety officials hand over possible debris from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash to military personnel stationed at a command center in a harbor, Wednesday in Haleiwa, Hawaii, a day after. an Army helicopter with five on board crashed several miles off Oahu's North Shore. Officials  suspended the search for five Army soldiers in a helicopter crash during offshore training in Hawaii on Monday. [Associated Press]
  2. Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan

    Blogs

    Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

  3. Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville

    Blogs

    Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that ‘both sides” bore blame for Charlottesville.

  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer

    Nation

    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry

    Military

    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.