Who would have thought that Food Trucks would start a retailing revolution in the United States? Imagine purchasing records, flowers and clothing from what used to be exclusively called "Food Trucks." Could these new retailing trucks turn the old retailing models on its head, or are they great small business opportunities?
Look no further that the August 2012 issue of InStyle magazine (p. 50). This single page article reveals the impact food trucks are having on the U.S. retailing industry. And if you thought finding a food truck parking spot was tough, it will only get tougher! InStyle magazine shows pictures and business briefs for the following retail concepts:
The Fashion Truck – flirty dresses and Ya Los Angeles' nautical striped dresses
TMR Rolling Record Store – fresh pressed vinyl and T-shirts
The Styleliner – limited-edition accessories
The Flower Truck – fresh blooms and big bouquets
The Lodekka Double Decker – vintage dresses to rad men's ties and
BootLeg Austin – hard to find shoes like Esquivel and J Shoes
Retail trucks, as I now call them, seem to be replacing the corner newsstands, old fashioned ice cream neighborhood trucks, and push cart operators. Even though our society has dramatically shifted to online retailing throughout the past three years, consumers still long for that personal connection with whom they do business – and unique "one-of-a-kind" products that allow us to differentiate ourselves.
The Fashion Truck website www.TheFashionTruck.com states that Emily Benson started her fashion truck in the summer of 2011. From the site: "Inspired by the food truck revolution happening around her in New York City, and her own love of travel, she started concepting new ideas for her future. The idea of a boutique that traveled sparked her creativity and she started researching just how it could work. Her mobile boutique, The Fashion Truck, was born with the goal of bringing beautiful new apparel and accessories to the women of the East Coast."
The Styleliner website, www.thestyleliner.com, was started by Joey Wolffer and his friend Sara in June of 2010. Joey's handbag line, in collaboration with Laetitia Stanfield of Roarke NYC, meshed Moroccan rugs with hand-beaded panels inspired by India are made locally, in Brooklyn. "It's all about mixing materials and mixing worlds," Wolffer said.
The Flower Truck website, www.theflowertruck.com, states that the mobile flower shop was designed to roll around town and sell flowers and "to go" vases for a spur of the moment gift or a pick me up.
Jennifer, the owner, said she wanted her own business since her early twenties, and has come up with many ideas. When a friend gave her a little plastic collapsible reusable vase, she found her inspiration for the truck. She said: "Flowers, happy, right now, easy, convenient, to go! This little vase inspired the entire idea of a mobile flower shop ... I pictured the truck. I wrote out the concept and created a business plan. Then ... nothing until one day, three months later, I happened upon this old rickety ice cream truck and that was it. I found her!"
In three months, she was sitting on Main Street in Santa Monica with a truck filled with flowers.
"And then the people came and they loved it! They stopped, took pictures, and they told me that my idea was an awesome one. They bought arrangements that they made together. They smiled and everyone was happy forever and ever. The beginning," Jennifer said.
These nonfood trucks concepts continue to reinforce my belief that Food Trucks are excellent small business incubators for private entrepreneurs and small business investors. However, I am most proud of the fact that the "food truck" phenomena started it all!
In follow-up, Food Technical Consulting (www.foodbevbiz.com) has scheduled a 3-day industry Food Truck Workshop in Denver Aug. 20-22: How to Start & Grow a Food Truck Business. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-471-1443. A course manual will be available for sale for international small business operators who cannot attend.
Darrel Suderman, Ph.D., is president of Food Technical Consulting and founder of Food Innovation Institute. He has held senior R&D/QA leadership positions at KFC, Boston Market, Church's Chicken and Quiznos and led KFC’s development team of “Popcorn Chicken”, now a $1B international product –invented by Gene Gagliardi.