Bank hopes to create community 'lemonaders'

by Sonja J. Keith

Young people in Faulkner County have a unique opportunity to see what it is like to “own” a business thanks to a community outreach program developed by First Service Bank. 

In planning for its recent grand opening at its Conway location, bankers created an entrepreneur program they are calling the “Lemonade Stand Project.” 

Donny Bradley, Conway market president/loan officer, said the idea was the result of a brainstorming session and was inspired, in part, by the bank’s “Dream big” campaign, which features an image of a girl selling lemonade.

“We are focusing on our target market, which is small businesses and families,” Bradley said. “What says that more than a lemonade stand?”

Jon Patrom, retail sales/marketing officer at First Service, said the bank hopes to recruit and inspire “lemonaders” who are interested in learning how to start a business.

The bank has arranged for a permanent lemonade stand to be placed at the new Boys and Girls Club of Faulkner County facility that is under construction at Conway Station on Robins Street. In the meantime, the stand is on display at the Conway branch at 2475 Washington Ave. in Northern Conway. 

Bankers also plan to visit the club to promote the program and help educate young people about starting and owning their own business.

In addition, a portable stand is available for local young people to reserve to start their own business. They receive a kit, which includes a money bag, pencils and pens. 

“We also have tips on how to be a lemonader,” Patrom said. “It’s kind of fun for kids to run their own business.”

Information on saving money is also shared with young people. Bradley said while it is not a requirement to open a savings account, bankers are using the program as an opportunity to encourage young people to save and be good stewards. He said young people have to complete and sign documents when they borrow the stand, much like they would if they were conducting official business at the bank. He said the bank is “loaning” the stand, and the loan is repaid when it is returned to the bank.

Bradley said about 10 kids used the portable lemonade stand over the summer. “I think it’s going to be an awesome program and teach a thing or two about entrepreneurship,” he said. 

The lemonade stands have been customized to reflect the bank’s color and signature American flag, which are displayed at many First Service locations. There is also a chalkboard area where young people can list prices and other information.

Information about the program was distributed to teachers in the Conway and Greenbrier school districts. Patrom said the stand could be used in a variety of ways, including class projects. First Service associates are also available to speak with students about how to start their own business through a lemonade stand.

“Teachers were very interested in the concept,” Patrom said. “They are always looking for new ways to teach . . . It’s an easy way to teach how to save money and start a business.”

Individuals interested in more information on the program should contact Bradley at the Conway location at 501.932.5050 or Patrom at Greenbrier at 501.679.7300.

Patrom considers the lemonade stand program a way that First Service can “pay it forward” in the community. 

“We are a bank on the corner, but we offer some unique approaches,” he said. “The lemonade stand is the start of what we hope is to come to help make a difference.”

Bradley hopes the program will encourage young people to pursue their dreams. “They are learning they can dream big and accomplish whatever goals they want to do.”