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Are retail trucks the next food trucks?

Mobile retail is catching on quickly, and one retailer says there will be more following in their footsteps.

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the fashion mobile

the fashion mobile

The evolution of mobile retail

When regular people used to dream of opening a restaurant or store, the option was to borrow money from family or the bank, set up shop in a brick and mortar location, and work endless hours. Today, with the food truck explosion, retail entrepreneurs are not far behind the pack, pulling up their converted buses and Airstreams at the same Farmer’s Markets. If someone can set up shop at a fair or a market, these are the same entrepreneurs that are investing a bit more to be less at the mercy of a traveling show, rather, becoming their own traveling show.

Minnesota’s first mobile boutique, The Fashion Mobile is pictured above, and owners Teresa and David Grim opened up shop just a few weeks ago, having closed down their traditional boutique last year. The couple blogs that cost, choice, and limited hours are the top three reasons others may choose to open retail trucks.

The upside and the downside

“Realistically you can start a mobile store for about $20,000 or less,” the couple writes. “If you do a lot of the work you can save even more. There is absolutely no way that you could open a retail store for that amount when you figure in the long term lease, utilities and build outs. Plus, you are probably going to have employees to hire as you can’t work there every single second its open. That really gets expensive.”

Additionally, they note that going mobile adds a lot of choice for the owner. You can run sales whenever you like, or make niche choices like handmade jewelry or only local fares. “No one can prevent you from having the type of store you want to have. It will be totally up to you.”

The third benefit is limited hours, because “you can choose your hours and spend them at events, shows and outings that you know people will be at and are shopping. The battle of finding customers and getting them to come into your store is greatly reduced when you’re at a place where people are already shopping. Or if you offer the option of appearing at home parties your customers are already there when you show up.”

We would add that the expectation of regularity does not exist for mobile vendors, so the element of surprise is high, which lends well to local artisans and hand crafted products, whereas if you walk into a Starbucks, there is an expected recipe that must be exactly right and the same every time. Monotony is certainly not a part of a mobile retailer’s life.

No such license exists

The pair are honest about the disadvantages they and their predecessors will face. “Maintaining a vehicle, bad weather, zoning and licensing laws and the newness of it.” According to the Star Tribune1, the company has already turned a profit, after buying the former newspaper delivery truck for $2,600, revamping it with a $10,000 paint job, new tires, and renovating the interior, but the challenge of licensing remains, as the concept is new (read: no license exists for it yet), and not widely adopted like food trucks, so they may not do business on public streets like their cuisine counterparts, but still participate in festivals, markets, and private parties.

“I would argue that the positives outweigh the negatives and that anyone who is interested in opening a retail store seriously give this option a look,” the Grims continue. “Fashion trucks are catching on fast and my be the next big thing.”










1 Star Tribune
Image credits go to The Fashion Mobile

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. AustinBusiness

    July 25, 2012 at 6:26 am

    @FoodTrailersATX it’s fun watching business models evolve isn’t it? Especially when you understand that the underlying principles hold.

    • FoodTrailersATX

      July 25, 2012 at 6:34 am

      @austinbusiness It’s a nice evolution. Even if you stay in the food trailer realm, they’ve evolved quite a bit over the past few years.

      • AustinBusiness

        July 25, 2012 at 6:55 am

        @FoodTrailersATX especially in Austin, it seems.

  2. pfreet

    July 25, 2012 at 9:24 am

    @Urvaksh @retailjeff @coydavidsoncre This is nothing new. I buys lots of stuff off the back of trucks. Oh wait. 🙂

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Business Entrepreneur

Here’s why you shouldn’t start a startup

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Building your own startup and being your own boss sounds tempting, but be sure you make these considerations before starting out.

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Man at a whiteboard outlining his startup plan.

2020, a year for our generation that will most likely be marked in infamy for decades to come. At least I hope that this is the bottom of the barrel, because if there’s even further to go… Those fallout shelters are starting to look homey.

A lot of people, myself included, are looking for different options for new careers. Maybe it’s time to place some faith in those back-burner dreams that no one ever really thought would come to fruition. But there are some things about starting up a new business that we should all really keep in mind.

While you can find any number of lists to help you to get things going, here’s a short list that makes beginning a new business venture a monumental effort:

  • You need to have a unique idea with an impeccable execution. Ideas are a dime a dozen. But even the goods ones need the right business-minded person behind it to get things going for them.
  • Time, time, and more time. To get a startup to a point where it is sustainable and giving you back something that is worthwhile, takes years. Each of those years will take many decisions that you can only hope will pan out. There is no quick cash except for a lottery and you have to be extra lucky for those to get you anything. This whole idea will take years of your life away and it may end in failure no matter what you do.
  • You have to have the stamina. Most data will show you that startups fail 90% of the time. The majority of those are because people gave up on the idea. You have to push and keep pushing or you’ll never get there yourself. Losing determination is the death of any business venture.
  • Risk is a lifestyle. To get anywhere in life you have to risk something. Starting a business is all about risking your time and maybe your money to get a new life set up. If you can’t take risks for the future then you can’t move up in the business world.
  • Bad timing and/or a bad market. If you don’t have a sense for the market around you, which takes time and experience (or a lot of luck), you won’t make it. A keen business sense is absolutely necessary for you to succeed in a startup. Take some time and truly analyze yourself and your idea before trying something.
  • Adaptability is also a necessity. The business world can be changed at the drop of a hat, with absolutely no warning. Rolling with the punches is something you have to do or every little change is going to emotionally take a toll on you.
  • Lastly, not all of this depends upon your actions. If you start something that relies on investors, you’re likely going to get told “no” so many times that you’ll feel like it’s on repeat. Not everything is dependent upon your beliefs and whims. You need to be able to adjust to this and get people to see things from your point of view as well. But ultimately, it’s not all about you, it’s also about them.

These are just a few ways that starting a startup could stress you out. So, while the future could be bright, stay cautious and think twice before making any life changing decisions.

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Business Entrepreneur

Restaurants: Going digital is simple with these tools

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) In 2020, restaurants going digital is critical. Luckily, it’s also easy, safe, and may even save you money.

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Restaurants prepares delivery or to-go food for safety

So, you own or manage a restaurant and you have yet to “digitize” your menu for COVID-era safe ordering? No problem! Transitioning your menu and service to the virtual realm has never been easier. There are a ton of options for restaurants to choose from to keep your customers feeling at-ease, your front-of-house staff happy, and the whole service experience streamlined for all parties involved.

A free app with over 500 restaurant partners and 5k+ active users, AAHI is a user-friendly platform that uses QR codes to share menus and NFC for contactless payments. AAHI boasts a 25% order increase for participating restaurants and who can say no to that, especially during these tough times. Additionally, you’ll be cutting down on operational costs by around 30% (better tech equals less need for servers!), and your laid-off staff will be able to collect unemployment if they need to.

Another free (up to 200 views a month) app with an emphasis on curbside pick-up is Orderlina. Customers scan a QR code, which takes them to the same menu they would see if they were going to eat in, making it an integrated experience. A bonus is that the app links your menu to your social channels. I always say, free marketing is never a bad thing! Plus, you’ll be more likely to gain followers and receive micro-content from satisfied customers. Win-win!

Especially with winter right around the corner and outdoor seating becoming an increasingly limited option (especially depending on where you live), everyone in the industry is eventually going to have to make the shift to digital – the question is when. Physical menus have become a thing of the past. Not only are they potential vessels for spreading COVID-19, but if you are using disposable paper ones, you’re undoubtedly creating unneeded waste. Same goes for the exchange of cash, or card payments that require contact. Good riddance!

The common goal across the entire industry right now is to stay open and bring in capital in whatever capacity possible, while also maintaining a healthy staff and a pleasurable, safe experience for patrons. That’s going to require some adjustment and creativity compared to service pre-COVID. By converting to digital, you are putting your best foot forward into the uncertain future for the restaurant industry.

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Business Entrepreneur

Scientifically check your risk for burnout with this free quiz

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) This new tool lets you take a free self-assessed, science-based burnout test to give you an idea of how much self-care you need.

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Woman with face on table suffering burnout in front of computer.

Concerns of keeping self-care and mental health in a positive spot – specifically in relation to burnout – have been a hot topic of discussion. While COVID-19 has exacerbated these concerns and stress levels, the issue of burnout has been around for quite some time.

Work burnout is often discussed within terms of work-life balance. Simple ways to avoid that crash are enforcing a hard stop on reading or responding to emails at a certain time of evening, or to continuously clean your workspace. Easier said than done, but it is critical.

But sometimes you have to look at the nitty gritty. Sometimes you have to ask difficult questions about your job and your personality in order to understand how burnout is impacting you. This can now be done with Global IT Burnout Index, a free, science-based assessment to tackle your stressors before it’s too late.

This is geared towards people working in tech (as the website reads, “burnout in tech is high and real”), but is useful for any industry.

To begin, you simply start the quiz and answer a few questions about yourself and your job (e.g. “I find it difficult to relax after a day of work” and then you answer based on how strongly you agree or disagree).

There are 10 total questions, and no personal information is asked (no name or email). It is open data, meaning it will help people on the other side better understand burnout; but, it’s totally anonymous.

The quiz takes no longer than 2 minutes. At the end, it will give you a number out of 6 measuring your burnout rate. The higher the number, the more likely you are to experience burnout.

Burnout has the ability to manifest physically and mentally, and can take a toll on your body and mind. Knowing if you’re experiencing high amounts of activity that can lead to burnout can help you know if you need to take precautions to change things in your life or job.

For those of us working from home, the situation is a Catch-22. You aren’t currently forced into a stressful commute. But it’s harder to pull yourself away when 5pm (or whatever your end time is) rolls around.

For people in the office or on site, it’s the same thing. You get to socialize (safely, obvi) with your coworkers, but there’s those on-site pressures.

No situation is perfect, but understanding if you’re in a situation where you could use a change or some help is incredibly important – especially these days.

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