Tulsa’s hottest new start-up might not be what you think. Litmonade Stand owner Vincent Bates has become a social media sensation, drumming up business from all over Tulsa.
“At the 100-year anniversary, it just feels right,” Bates said about the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre while standing inside his new pop-up tent. His two young daughters, Royalty and Chasity, entertained his customers in line. “You know, my girls come first. I’ve had plenty of jobs; jobs after jobs after jobs. Several of my businesses have failed, but I have always instilled in myself that failure is the key to success.”
While Bates doesn’t have any direct ties to survivors or victims of the Massacre, he has spent a great deal of time learning about the dark period in Tulsa’s history. “I think people from outside our state make a bigger deal of it than we do here, and that’s because we were never taught about it in school. We never really learned about it. When I found out, I watched hundreds of videos, I read at least ten books on the massacre. It’s just…I’m just happy to be blasting off at this time.” The Litmonade Stand travels around Tulsa; you only know where he will be by following his social media accounts.
Litmonade on Greenwood
On the weekend of the centennial, Bates spent Saturday selling his Litmonades in Greenwood. “There were so many different races down there this weekend supporting businesses, making transactions and just being one. It felt right, and I loved that feeling.”
Bates described suffering from a deep depression for the last two years, struggling to decide what to do next. “It was horrible, and I almost gave up. Towards the end of that time, I got an idea…a weird idea. I thought it wouldn’t work, but I didn’t have anything to lose. So I started the Litmonade Stand. I tried and I went hard and I did my best with promotions, and it turned out that the people loved it and here we are today!”
His goal is to have an actual store front in the next few years. “We are in a tent right now. Today is actually our first day in this tent. We’ve been in a much smaller tent… every day we are getting closer and closer to our goal.”
Never giving up
Bates is clearly a master of social media promotion and has some words of advice for fellow aspiring Black entrepreneurs working to revitalize the Greenwood District. “Start! Just start. I started selling drinks on Facebook. We are just getting out of Covid, and I thought no one would want to buy my drinks. But just start. If it doesn’t work, start again. If that doesn’t work, start again. It’s not over ‘til it’s over.”
You can find Vincent on Facebook and Instagram. You can support his business and dreams of buying a storefront by donating to his GoFundMe page. If you’re trying to decide which one of his delicious Litmonades to try first, he recommends the first drink he ever created, Strawberry Lemonade.