Setting up a traditional retail store can be extremely expensive, especially for people who are new to the business world. E-commerce sites tend to have low overheads, but some people actually want to meet their customers. A lot of people like to watch their customers view their products and use them first-hand.
Stacey Steffe, who is the American Mobile Retail Association‘s (an organization for mobile retailers) president, said there are hundreds throughout the United States. She founded the association back in 2011, and now they have more than 65 members throughout America, and the average cost to start a mobile retail business is around $20,000, but it really depends on how much work entrepreneurs have to put into the mobile vehicle and how much work they are willing to do. It tends to be cheaper to renovate a vehicle than it is to fix up a traditional retail property.
There are many things people can do with a mobile retail truck. For example, some people sell designer shoes, while others sell knitting supplies out of their mobile vehicle. With that said, if you want to find out a few ways people are using their vehicles as their space to do business, then continue to read on.
1. ARTichoke Apparel Bus- This business was started in Cape Cod, MA, by Kate and Lizzy Escher, and they were selling men and women clothing that local artists designed. For two years, the sisters sold their clothing online, but they they turned their business into a mobile business, and before they knew it, they had a boutique on wheels in the form of a former bus. The bus can be found throughout the Cape Cod area, but people can find out where they are by following them on Twitter.
2. Bootleg Airstream- Sarah Ellison, who is a stylist, started her shoe store in 2011, and she named her shop Bootleg Airstream, which offers various types of eclectic footwear. She sells her items out of a trailer. The trailer features black and white stripes, and people can go to the South Congress Shopping district in Austin on weekends if they are interested in seeing what she has to offer.
3. Yarnover Truck- Barbara Pushies and Maridee Nelson are friends and they have a passion for knitting, and they wanted to start a yarn store, but financial commitment made them think twice. However, they started Yarnover Truck, which was a Little Debbie snack truck that they converted. In 2012, they launched their business and now they can be found throughout Southern California at various music festivals and art festivals.
4. The Flower Truck- Jenifer Kaplan started a mobile flower shop in 2011 after she converted a Dodge ice cream truck. Her mobile flower shop can often be spotted throughout various areas in LA. People will find that she has a great selection of flowers, and many of them are fresh and come with vases. If you’re interested in where this truck will be, then follow the business on Twitter.
5. Celebrities Boutique- Nneka Green-Ingram used to drive buses in NYC, and for years she sold accessories on a sidewalk in Harlem, but then she bought herself a former Frito Lay truck and she renovated it in 2012. Instead of snacks inside the truck, she places accessories such as statement necklaces and sunglasses inside the truck. She sells items that sell for around $5-$30, and people can find her truck parked in Harlem Thursday-Sundays at 125th Street.
6. Third Man Records Rolling Record Store- Jack White, who founded the White Stripes in 2009, started this mobile record store, which is the mobile version of his brick and mortar record shop. The truck made its debut a few years ago at South by Southwest in Austin, and it is a mobile music store, as well as a pop-up performance venue. The mobile truck goes across the country and pays a visit to numerous record stores, as well as festivals, and if people want to know where the truck will be stopping, then they can follow the record store on Twitter.
7. Bath Petals- Patricia Filaseta and Julie Warnock, a mother and daughter team, turned a maintenance vehicle that once belonged to the city and turned it into a beauty supple truck that’s called Aromatherapy On The Go, and it is equipped with a sea salt souffle bar and a bubble machine. This means their customers can try out some of their all-natural salts and scrubs. The pair started their online business in 2001 and then they eventually expanded it by turning it into a mobile business, which now makes trips to various art shows and food festivals in the LA area.
8. Wanderlust- This is a mobile vintage clothing store that was started in mint green trailer in Portland, Oregon. Vanessa and Dan Lurie own this business, and they added wood panelling to the trainer and opened their business in 2010. Wanderlust expanded and there is a brick-and-mortar shop people can go to, but the mobile store does appear at various art fairs and events that take place across America.
9. Bark Bathe & Beyond- This is a mobile dog grooming business and it operates out of , and Richard Caporizzo owns it. He turned his van into a doggie spa that has features such as a generator, electronic grooming table and water tanks. Richard and his son travel to people’s homes to blow dry their dogs, bathe them and trim them.
10. Street Car Cigars- A lot of restaurants don’t permit smoking, and the same goes for bars. This means cigar smokers can’t enjoy smoking inside such places, but one husband and wife team decided to solve this problem with Street Car Cigars. It is a mobile cigar lounge that is inside an old Airstream trailer, which has leather seats and numerous televisions. The lounge, which is located in Pennsylvania, sells cigars and people can rent it privately, and it has been used for corporate events and for tailgating events.