A politician in a New York suburb called police on two 13-year-old boys for selling cupcakes and other baked goods without a permit, according to a report Monday.
The Journal News in Westchester County said the boys, Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff, had a brisk business selling cupcakes, cookies, brownies and Rice Krispie treats for $1 each in a Chappaqua park.
However, New Castle Councilman Michael Wolfensohn called the police after discovering the sale was not for charity, the newspaper said.
Kevin’s mother, Laura Graff, said the teens were “good kids” who were scared by the police call.
“I am shocked and sad for the boys. It was such a great idea, and they worked hard at it,” Laura Graff, Kevin’s mother, told The Journal News. “But then some Town Board member decided to get on his high horse and wreck their dreams.”…
“All vendors selling on town property have to have a license, whether it’s boys selling baked goods or a hot dog vendor,” Wolfensohn said.
He said “in hindsight” he perhaps should have told the boys they needed a license rather than calling the cops. “The police are trained to deal with these sorts of issues,” he told The Journal News.
A permit to sell things in the park costs $150 to $350 for two hours and a $1 million insurance certificate is also required, the paper said…
Andrew DeMarchis told The Journal News of his disappointment.
“We were being entrepreneurs,” he said, “but now I feel a little defeated.”
I think I’ve changed my mind about these stories. If the point of having your kid start a lemonade stand, cupcake stand, or some other little venture is for him to learn what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, he might as well learn early on that part of being an entrepreneur is dealing with asshole politicians, petty bureaucrats, and rivals willing to use the law to shut you down rather than compete with you. It also means understanding that the costs of complying with all the bullshit hurdles the government puts in the way of starting up a business may mean you can never get your business off the ground, no matter how good your idea.
The cupcake kids will at least now grow up with a healthy distaste for politicians, and probably some newfound respect for the people who do actually manage to start a business in hostile environments that include requirements for million-dollar insurance policies and political slime like Michael Wolfensohn.
And that’s actually a pretty valuable lesson.