Cops Shut Down Kids' Cupcake Stand for Lack of License
Call it half-baked: A pair of suburban New York City middle-school entrepreneurs were stopped selling homemade cupcakes and other treats for lack of a vendors' license.
Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff, both 13, set up shop in a park in Chappaqua, charging passersby $1 per cupcake, brownie, cookie or Rice Krispie treat. They hoped eventually to save up enough to open a restaurant.
The pair pulled in $120 one Saturday, invested $60 on a cart from Target plus water and Gatorade, then returned the next Saturday with two friends. After about an hour (during which they made $30), a police officer shut them down, saying he was acting on the tip of a local politician.
The officer said he was "sorry to have to do this", but was duty bound to act on "a report filed over the phone by a town board member," Suzanne DeMarchis, Andrew's mother, told the local paper, The Journal News.
"Kevin was so upset, he was crying all the whole way home," she said of her son's friend. "He was worried if he was going to get arrested or have a criminal record."
The newspaper got on the case, filed a Freedom of Information Act request, and learned the tipster was Michael Wolfensohn, a Democratic councilman.
Wolfensohn told the newspaper: "All vendors selling on town property have to have a licence, whether it's boys selling baked goods or a hot dog vendor."
Asked whether he could have told the boys to obtain a licence instead of going to the police, Wolfensohn said: "In hindsight, maybe I should have done that." He added: "The police are trained to deal with these sorts of issues."
Getting a permit requires a $1 million certificate insurance, plus a $150 to $350 fee per two hours.
"I don't get too many offers for babysitting, and we live in a development, so shoveling snow is not an option either," Andrew said. "We were being entrepreneurs, but now I feel a little defeated."
Inc. contributing editor Courtney Rubin was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.