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Neighbor Who Tried to Shut Down Boys Lemonade Stand Gets a Healthy Dose of Karma


by Jason DeWitt | Top Right News

A Florida man who has battled to shut down a 13-year olds lemonade stand has received a major dose of bureaucratic karma.

Young T.J. Guerrero gained international attention because of his neighbor Doug Wilkeys remarkable, 2-year effort to shut down the 13-year-old boys venture. People have gone out of their way to purchase his lemonade. T.J. has even been given donations, treated to a limo ride and featured in news reports from New York to Europe.

He also has given back by donating some of the money to a local animal shelter.

The neighbor, Doug Wilkey, meanwhile has garnered a reputation as mean spirited for bizarrely demanding that the city shut down T.J.s illegal business to restore peace and quiet and avoid the dangerous potential of spoiled goods poisoning the public.

Karma is a well, you know.

Wilkey is now under investigation by the city for of all things running a business out of his home without a license.

A tipster contacted the city and pointed officials toward records that show Wilkey, as recently as March, listed his Patricia Avenue home as the principal business address for Bayport Financial Services.

Planning director Greg Rice said officials were drafting a letter notifying Wilkey, 61, that all companies operating in the city require a business tax license, which costs about $45 a year, and that home-based-business owners must sign an affidavit agreeing to follow special rules.

The irony is (Wilkeys) not following the rules either, or doesnt seem to be, Rice said.

He could face daily fines of $250 if he does not comply with the ordinance.

Meanwhile, T.J. was across town presenting $200 to the Humane Society of Pinellas, where his family years ago adopted a pit bull mix.

T.J. pairs his lemonade earnings with lawn-mowing cash to pay for things like his cellphone bill and dinners with his mother.

When his stand ran low on supplies, the family said, an anonymous donor drove from Tampa to drop off 10 bags of lemons, sugar and ice. They said other groups, including the American Legion and radio listeners in St. Petersburg, have hosted their own lemonade fundraisers for T.J.

As many as 10 people have rung the doorbell to express support, and admirers from as far away as Canada have phoned or emailed to offer donations ranging from $5 to $250 and even an iPad. Several readers said T.J.s entrepreneurial spirit touched them.

His mother, Lori Guerrero, said the family was overwhelmed and shocked by the support.

T.J., who treated his mother this week to dinner, said he plans to put most of the donations in savings. His parents are setting up a college fund, and the family is exploring other charitable options.

This situation has taught me to not let one person knock me down, T.J. said, and to just get right back up.

Business is booming.

Tuesday and Wednesday alone, T.J. said he went through 13 pitchers of lemonade, even though Wednesdays shift had to be cut short.

There was homework to be done, his mom said. School always comes first.