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    The Lemonade Girl

    April 21, 2022

    For more years than many of us can remember, summers in Provincetown weren’t complete without the sight of a little girl walking up and down Commercial Street, calling out in a lovely singsong voice, “Lemonade! Fifty cents! Lemonade!”

    That little girl is now all of twenty-three years old, but Xia Maxwell remembers those years with fondness. “I had my regulars who always looked forward to seeing me,” she recalls. “I don’t think it was just for the lemonade, though!”

    Probably not; there was something endearingly retro about a child pulling a wagon and selling lemonade; many of those who stopped to buy a cup probably remembered their own early attempts at entrepreneurship via lemonade and iced-tea stands. Xia, however, did one better. “I think people liked that I was mobile,” she says. “I didn’t expect them to come to me. I went to them.” And she did, all up and down a crowded street teeming with tourists and wilting in the heat. Her cold drinks were more than welcome.

    Lemonade Girl Provincetown
    Xia Lemonade Girl Ptown

    Her mother ran a rental business out of Flyer’s Boatyard, so Xia and her older sisters were always around Ptown in the summer. “I have four older sisters,” she explains, “and two of them decided to start a lemonade wagon on Commercial Street. I was adopted when I was three, and I was four the first time they took me along with them. It became a huge success—maybe that’s because of my age. People thought I was cute.” (An understatement for sure!) “That’s how I got started with it. And then it was just me and one of them for a while, and a lot of people responded. I was seven where they felt I was old enough to do it on my own. Either my mom or an older sibling would be in town from a distance to keep an eye on me, then gradually I’d do it alone without them even coming to town. Commercial Street is busy, but it’s safe, too. I don’t think they ever worried about me. Back then, people were very accepting to see young children hustling. It’s a great place, only one street, a safe place and a great location.”

    And for years, she plied the street. “There were a couple of people that really made it fun to go out there,” she says. “There was a guy named Peter the balloon guy and he’d always buy lemonades for all the people sitting around the town hall benches. He made the time I was out there enjoyable and memorable. And cops would buy my lemonade, a lot of people were rooting for me to be out there.”

    What was her favorite time? “Usually Carnival week,” she responds. “There’s a ton of people in town. I’d sell bottled water, beads, baked goods my sister would make, sand dollars we’d found, and of course the lemonade. That was a huge hit, but honestly, we didn’t think of ourselves as such an institution. We were just out there trying to have a little fun and make a little money.”

    These days, Xia is still working hard. She graduated from Central Connecticut College in May with a business management degree, and now works for the Dolphin Fleet. “I’m still trying to figure out my next step,” she confesses. “I’m applying for the graduate program at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. I want to find a way to mix business with the marine industry.”

    So does she have any advice for the beginning young entrepreneur? “Do something that’s unique,” Xia counsels, “and do it in your own style. People are drawn to those who become somehow iconic, as I did. I put a strain on my vocal cords for sure, yelling all the way down Commercial Street, but I had fun and I was part of the summer for a lot of people.” She pauses. “Some people hated it, and if that happens to you, just ignore them. They don’t own the street. It’s for less time than you think, it will all go by so quickly.”

    “One guy said he’d give me one hundred dollars if I stopped,” she remembers; there’s a twinkle in her voice. “I didn’t need his money. I always tried to be the bigger person at times like that. Another time, someone called the cops on me. They just laughed and bought my lemonade!”

    And how does one end such an illustrious career? “I stopped when I was no longer having fun with it,” says Xia. “What else?”

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