By Catherine Cheng
Zack Francom was inspired to create Zack’s Shack, a lemonade and cookie stand, by a school fundraising competition. Since then, Zack has raised enough money to purchase over 300 wheelchairs for people in developing nations and is determined to go even further.
AK: What inspired you to create Zack’s Shack?
ZF: After listening to my elementary school assembly, I just felt like I wanted to earn enough money to buy one wheelchair on my own.
AK: What challenges did you face on your road to creating and running Zack’s Shack? How did you overcome these challenges?
ZF: After the first year, I wanted to do more. I told my parents that this was something I wanted to continue doing every year, but I never realized what that would take to do it. I didn’t want to fail. As a result, each year I would get nervous that no one would come and that I would disappoint those waiting in need for wheelchairs.
I’ve been extremely lucky in getting a lot of media coverage which has helped get the word out about my lemonade and cookie stand. I’ve learned how using social media, newspaper, radio, TV, and the Internet can help support a business.
AK: Did anyone help you on your journey? How have these people influenced you and your project?
ZF: My parents. My mom continues to make all of the cookies and has helped me set-up an Instagram and Facebook page where she sends out Facebook messages to everyone we know. My dad helped me set up a website, create a business plan, update all of my interviews and articles online, and count the money we earn after each event.
I couldn’t have done this without my parents, family, grandparents, friends, cousins, neighbors, community, complete strangers, and many others. They have all supported me and are the ones who have made Zack’s Shack successful.
AK: What do you think is the most important thing to remember or do when you are selling your lemonade?
ZF: I try to always remember that every glass of lemonade and cookie I sell is another dollar that I can use towards purchasing a wheelchair for someone who is in need. I make sure to talk to everyone who comes by the shack and tell them thank you. I even try to reply to those who make donations online and personally tell them thank you.
AK: What are your goals in the future for both yourself and for Zack’s Shack?
ZF: I want to continue to sell cookies and lemonade each year (I’ve added selling T-shirts to help raise more money as well). I would like to continue to inspire other kids to set up their own “shacks” and combine everyone’s efforts and support. It would be pretty cool to have hundreds of kids participating each year with their own shacks.
I want to keep learning about business and finding ways to give back. I want to be a professional athlete and an architect, and I hope I can continue to learn and grow.
AK: Please tell us a little more about Zack’s Shack itself. How do you make the lemonade and cookies? When do you sell your products? How do you give back to your community?
ZF: After 6 years, I’ve earned over $60,000 and purchased over 300 wheelchairs. Cookies sell 2 for $1 and the lemonade sells for .50 cents per glass. I started selling t-shirts too. My mom makes 400 dozen cookies (snickerdoodle, chocolate chip, peanut butter chocolate chip, oatmeal raisins, sugar cookie w/ cream cheese frosting). I use Country Time Lemonade Powder for the lemonade and add fresh lemons to the mix in order to make it taste extra sweet.
Zack’s Shack is open for only 2 days each year. I sell out in front of my house usually during spring break weekend (Friday and Saturday). For the past five years, I deliver the money I earn to a local charity who is the one to purchase the wheelchairs and deliver them to those who need them in third world countries. This year I am going to purchase the wheelchairs myself because I want to go and actually be able to deliver them to people in these countries. I think that would be pretty cool to be there and give them out.
AK: When you’re not running Zack’s Shack, what do you enjoy spending your time doing?
ZF: I love spending time with my family, friends and cousins. I like to play sports, especially football and basketball.
AK: What advice would you give to our readers about following their dreams and making a difference?
ZF: Never set aside a thought when you feel inspired to do something. Anyone can find a way to serve others. It doesn’t have to be big, just follow what your heart and mind is telling you to do.
AK: Is there anything else you would like to add?
ZF: I am so happy to see how many people support me and feel the same way I do about how “it feels great to give.” I couldn’t do what I do if other people didn’t feel the same about my cause and come to support me.
I will continue to sell lemonade, cookies, and t-shirts every year as long as people keep coming and supporting Zack’s Shack.