Alexandra “Alex” Scott wasn’t sure where the lemonade stand idea came from, but she did know that kids suffering from pediatric cancer, including herself, wanted their tumors to go away. In July 2000, Alex and her older brother Patrick held a lemonade stand in their front lawn to raise money for pediatric cancer causes, specifically research for a cure. She was four years old when she held her first lemonade stand.
Alex passed away in August 2004, but even in her short lifetime, she raised more than $1 million for pediatric cancer research by holding annual lemonade stands. Her parents, Liz and Jay Scott, continued the lemonade stands and spun the concept into the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. As of July 2008, the foundation has raised more than $20 million.
“Alex’s story was very powerful because she lived with cancer her entire life, yet still looked outside herself to help other people,” Liz Scott says. “The fact that she lost her life to cancer sent a very strong message to people about the urgent need for funding and for research and for cures.”
Sweet side of business
The Scotts wanted a product to carry on their daughter’s legacy, and to them a natural step was a ready-to-drink lemonade.
Dwayne Schwarz, vice president of USA Beverage, Doylestown, Pa., proved to be the right partner to bring the lemonade into RTD form. USA Beverage, brewer of Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer and Orange Cream soda, entered into an exclusive licensing agreement to create the drink.
USA Beverage and numerous suppliers donated their time and services to bring Alex’s Lemonade to the marketplace, and Alex’s ready-to-drink lemonades launched in May 2006. Today, USA Beverage produces and distributes Alex’s Lemonade.
Every case that USA Beverage sells of Alex’s Lemonade, 23 percent goes toward the foundation, Schwarz says.
Alex’s products are sold in 21 states across the country, from Maine to the Carolinas. USA Beverage is working to make Alex’s a national brand, he says.
Developing a charitable brand is a big undertaking, Schwarz says, because everybody wants to know where the money is going and how it is being applied. The labels on the RTD bottles explain Alex’s story and how the foundation began, he says.
“When you take time to explain [the story] to them, educate them about the foundation … people are relaxed about taking the brand on,” Schwarz says. “People are buying it because of the story. The good will in this day and age has surprised me.”
Schwarz found that retailers and distributors are more willing to carry the brand once they know all the details about it’s creation. Giant Supermarkets and Wawa are supporters of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and distributors of the RTD products. Even department stores are getting involved. Boscov, an East Coast department store, and Macy’s also sell Alex’s Lemonade and work with the foundation.
“They sell it at the register and the employees have different lemonade stands at their stores,” he says. “We sold them product and they hold stands at their corporate headquarters and raise money for the foundation.”
Anyone can hold a lemonade stand, but the most popular time is during the summer, specifically on “Lemonade Days.”
“We have a big weekend in June called Lemonade Days where a lot of our stand hosts will hold a stand on the same day that Alex had her original stand,” Scott says. “Over that weekend, we have about 1,500 lemonade stands that go on.”
Scott says there have been more than 10,000 lemonade stands since the foundation began in 2000. Last year, the foundation held 3,700 Alex’s Lemonade Stands during “Lemonade Days” in all 50 states.
As part of its efforts to grow the brand, USA Beverage has teamed with other companies for promotions.
In 2005, Kraft Foods, Northfield, Ill., began donating vouchers for free Country Time Lemonade for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Also, Country Time Lemonade produces an annual Alex’s Lemonade Stand Country Time Lemonade label and donates 5 cents to the foundation for each canister sold. Presently, Country Time Lemonade has donated more than $300,000 to the foundation.
Alex in RTD
USA Beverage continues to grow sales of Alex’s Lemonade with a big portion of the RTD bottled product sales given directly to the foundation. The 20-ounce plastic bottles are available in Alex’s Lemonade, Alex’s Pink Lemonade and Half and Half (half lemonade and half iced tea) flavors. Grape Ade and Orange Ade flavors also were introduced in June.
“Lemonade tends to taper off in the summer and we wanted something that will keep up in the winter,” Schwarz says. “Both products [Grape Ade and Orange Ade] are lemonade-based products,” he says, but have year-round appeal.
USA Beverage also is working with Lehigh Valley Foods, a branch of Dean Foods, to introduce Alex’s Lemonade in 1-gallon jugs.
The 1-gallon jugs are refrigerated products with a 35-day shelf life that will retail in the dairy section of the supermarket. By placing Alex’s Lemonade in a different section of a supermarket, the brand will have better reach to broader clientele, Schwarz says.
Sales are up more than 50 percent this year. To date, USA Beverage directly contributed $225,000 to the foundation.
“I think the No. 1 factor is just the generosity of people and how willing people are to give their time and to donate to this cause to help children with cancer,” Scott says. “This is largely because of the story. It inspired people to get involved.”