The man who tried to shut down a kid’s lemonade stand is now under investigation


May we interest you in a delicious glass of ice-cold schadenfreude? (iStock)

Today in turnabout: A Florida man who became an Internet villain after his quest to shut down a child’s lemonade stand went viral is now under investigation for potentially running an unlicensed home business.

Doug Wilkey, 61, has contacted city officials in Dunedin at least four times in the past two years in an attempt to get law enforcement to shut down the lemonade stand operated by his young neighbor, T.J. Guerrero. Wilkey’s complaint, the Tampa Bay Times reported last weekend, is that the lemonade stand is an “‘illegal business’ that causes excessive traffic, noise, trash, illegal parking and other problems that reduce his property values.”

CNN said the city sent a community police officer to look into the complaints, which came only from Wilkey. But after speaking to neighbors, the city concluded that the stand run by Guerrero, who is 12, wasn’t really an issue.

Well. The city of Dunedin’s planning director is finally going to give a robust response to Wilkey’s complaints — except probably not in the way he’d hoped, the Tampa newspaper reported in a follow-up story.

“(Wilkey’s) not following the rules either, or doesn’t seem to be,” planning director Greg Rice told the Times.

Wilkey uses his home address for a business he runs, according to the Times. An anonymous individual brought this to the attention of Rice, who told the paper that he’s in the process of writing a letter to Wilkey, informing him that he needs to purchase a business license and sign an affidavit in order to operate a business within Dunedin city limits. If he doesn’t comply with the ordinance he seems to be violating, Wilkey potentially faces a daily fine, the Times reported.

Guerrero’s lemonade stand — still in operation, despite Wilkey’s efforts to shut it down — charges $1 for a glass of lemonade and 50 cents for a cookie. The 12-year-old operates his stand on a busy street corner in his neighborhood, with the permission of the corner house’s owners.

And business is booming now that Wilkey’s complaints have made international news; Guerrero even has the support of a local radio host who, among other things, sent a staffer to help him handle all the extra business.

The kid earned extra points for what he’s done with his increased profits, which include donations from strangers who can’t visit the stand: He took his mom out to dinner, the Times reported. Most of the money will go into savings, and his family is looking into donating some of the money to charity.

Abby Ohlheiser is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.
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Abby Ohlheiser · August 29