Feds Bust Hamptons Lemonade Stands

Police raided several Hamptons lemonade stands this week
Police raided several Hamptons lemonade stands this week, Photo: nyul, mg7/iStock/Thinkstock

Lemons in the Lemonade Trade
In the lead-up to Fourth of July weekend, federal authorities moved this week to crack down on several Hamptons-based lemonade stands that they allege have been engaging in illegal trade practices. The 23 lemonade stands under scrutiny are suspected of numerous offenses, including deceptive marketing, price fixing, price gouging, and using vandalism to drive competitors out of business. Chief federal investigator Alexandra Citron, in briefing the press, outlined the charges her agency is prepared to bring. “First off, we have discovered numerous lemonade stands in the Hamptons that claim to be using local lemons in their product,” Citron says. “Yet when we asked them where lemon trees grow on the East End, they were unable to say.” The practice of price-fixing, according to Citron, is self-evident and nearly universal. “Have you seen any lemonade for sale for less than 25¢ a cup? 25¢ is clearly a secret minimum price that’s been agreed upon through collusion, and that’s an anti-competitive business strategy that is illegal in this country.” Citron also alleged price gouging on especially hot, humid days. “One of our undercover agents was charged the ridiculous price of $1.50 for a single cup of lemonade—of course, it was 95° out, and thirsty customers had no choice but to pay it.” Finally, Citron mentioned anecdotal accounts of vandalism forcing some lemonade stand proprietors to leave the business, including two stand-owners who were attacked by rival vendors brandishing water balloons. The investigation is ongoing.

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