Are Retail Trucks The Next Wave Of Shopping?

As anyone who lives or works in a major city can attest to, the last few years have seen a huge growth in the number of quality food vendors selling their items from trucks parked on city streets. While the food truck trend might be at or nearing its peak, it may have blazed a trail for other businesses to think about going mobile.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune looks at two local retailers that have decided to bring their products to the people, rather than wait for people to come to the store.

“It’s such a no-brainer: Pack it up and put it on wheels!” explains the owner of the Fashion Mobile, a converted newspaper delivery truck, which has already begun turning a profit after only one month in business.

The owner says the $2,600 outlay for the old Chevy truck was about what she had been paying for a month of rent and utilities at her old bricks-and-mortar store.

Just like many popular food trucks, the Fashion Mobile uses social media to tell shoppers where the truck will be at any given time.

And though the truck is not as spacious as your average clothing store, the owners turn that to their advantage by having a high turnover of their small inventory. This not only keeps customers coming back to the truck to see what new items are available, but lends itself to more impulse buys as customers fear the item might not be there the next time the truck rolls through.

However, because Minneapolis has never had to license a business like this before, it has yet to issue the truck a permit to sell its wares while parked on city streets.

A city official tells the Star-Tribune it would take a few months to create a new kind of license. And while it would be nice to just wave a magic wand and give the Fashion Mobile permission to sell alongside the food trucks the official says the city needs to consider exactly what it would be opening the door to by allowing retail trucks.

“I would have to do some hard thinking and looking at what other cities have allowed this and what their experiences have been,” he explains. “When we created the license for food trucks, we didn’t anticipate having 40 trucks out there.”

Another area woman has been operating antique furniture boutique called Uniquely Attainable out of a school bus she purchased for $3,600.

“I have an MBA. I never thought I’d be driving a bus,” says the owner, who was so successful with her store on wheels that she opened a permanent retail location. “But being able to sell from a store, the bus and online allows me to reach more people.”

Retail shops hit the road [StarTribune.com]