Since the last decade, mobile businesses have been on the rise across America as the US economy faltered and aspiring entrepreneurs sought ways to operate businesses for less money.
Much of the rise can be traced to Roy Choi, a chef in Los Angeles who started selling Korean barbecue tacos from a truck in 2008.
Le Fashion Truck, created by Jeanine Romo and Stacey Steffe, hit the streets of Los Angeles in 2011 and is often credited with being the first successful mobile boutique there, selling local clothes and handmade jewelry. Its startup costs, according to the owners, were less than $US20,000.It features young contemporary clothing with a California style.
Mobile boutiques also have a growing presence in New York, Nashville, Houston and the Washington area, according to the American Mobile Retail Association.
“The future of mobile retail is going to be very diverse,” said Sarah Ellison Lewis, founder and chief creative officer of Bootleg Airstream, a mobile shoe store based in Austin, Texas, that carries shoes from around the world. “It’s an amazing way to reach people in a memorable form, and it’s a sustainable business model.”
Lewis said she had lower overhead expenses than most traditional stores and reached $US100,000 in revenue in her first year.
Average startup costs for mobile boutiques, according to Steffe, who is a co-founder and president of the mobile retail association, generally run from $US20,000 to $US30,000, based on expenses for a used truck, interior and exterior upgrades and inventory. She said the average truck carries about $US2000 to $US3000 a month in overhead costs, including gas and insurance.
Romo of Le Fashion Truck, who also acts as a consultant for other mobile truck owners, said it takes mobile businesses one to two years, on average, to break even.
The success of mobile stores can produce a backlash from brick-and-mortar businesses that sometimes see mobile stores as competitors, which aren’t necessarily required to comply with the same regulations traditional businesses face.
Pros– less Startup Money needed
Regardless of the season, parking is always an issue