News / Economy

Tough Economy Drives Entrepreneurs to Business on Wheels

Tough Economy Drives Entrepreneurs to Business on Wheelsi
X
January 16, 2013 6:01 PM
For decades, food vendors in cities throughout the United States have offered meals from trucks and consumers flocked to these mobile restaurants. Now, people who like to shop can also find clothing and accessory stores on wheels. The fashion truck trend is gaining popularity in cities across the country, including Los Angeles. Elizabeth Lee explains why.
Elizabeth Lee
For decades, food vendors in cities throughout the United States have offered meals from trucks and consumers flocked to these mobile restaurants. Now, people who like to shop can also find clothing and accessory stores on wheels.  The fashion truck trend is gaining popularity in cities across the country, including Los Angeles.
 
Once a month, after sunset, an outdoor parking lot in downtown Los Angeles fills up with rows of trucks that sell everything from ice cream to spicy crawfish, and from clothing to jewelry. While people have seen food trucks around town for years, many, like Janelle Shepard, have never seen a fashion truck until this event.
 
“When you come in, it’s like going into a closet, you know, and you sift through everything.  It’s really cute," she said. 
 
Shepard is currently sifting through everything inside the J.D. Luxe fashion truck.  The back of the truck is a mini-boutique. Clothing hangs on a rack on one side and jewelry and purses are stylishly placed on built-in shelves on the other.  There is even a tiny fitting room.  
 
“We have a lot of handmade jewelry handmade clothing, handmade purses," said Jordana Fortaleza, one of the store's owners.
 
Fortaleza says the cost of owning a truck is much lower than renting a building. There’s also one other benefit.
 
“You’re able to travel to your own demographic," she said. 
 
But, Fortaleza admits, there are some challenges.

“The biggest challenge is definitely the weather. When it’s cold, it’s cold outside and there’s no one here," she said.
 
Another challenge is that, unlike a regular store, fashion trucks must be regularly maintained, and if the truck breaks down it can be out of commission for days until repairs can be made.
 
That’s what happened to Stacey Steffe’s Le Fashion Truck.  So she ended up stuck in the office. 
 
“We find ourselves in the [mechanic] shop at least once a year. Things happen.  Our little truck’s a little older," she said. 
 
Steffe says her 38-year-old fashion truck was the first to hit the streets of  L.A., two years ago.  After many more popped up, she started the West Coast Mobile Retail Association. It now has a nationwide membership almost 50 trucks.  
 
Steffe says the slow economy is driving the trend.

“A lot of people have gone from brick-and-mortar to a mobile truck because it’s allowed them to keep their business afloat," she said. 
 
Fashion school graduate Meagan Rogers says owning a fashion truck has allowed her to start making money while her classmates are still working in unpaid internships.

“The job market is so hard right now," she said. 
 
Fashion trucks are also giving Internet outlets some competition.  California Fashion Association President Ilse Metchek says impulse buys used to make up 20 percent of in-store retail sales.  But many consumers now shop on-line where impulse purchases rarely happen.  
 
She says consumers may be more impulsive in fashion trucks.
 
“This is a way to attract impulse purchasing. There’s a lot of money out there right now, just a lot of loose change," she said. 
 
And there is a lot to spend that loose change on. Steffe says entrepreneurs are putting more than just boutiques into trucks.  
 
“Any kind of business you can put in a brick-and-mortar is what you can put into a vehicle," she said. 
 
So, there is a truck that sells flowers, and another featuring specialty sports apparel.  The non-profit charity Saint Vincent DePaul in Los Angeles operates a thrift store and now puts some of its inventory on wheels to reach more people.  
 
Retail on wheels has also caught the attention of local authorities.  Steffe says her business group is now working with the city of San Francisco to craft laws to regulate this growing trend.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7893
JPY
USD
107.68
GBP
USD
0.6238
CAD
USD
1.1214
INR
USD
61.185

Rates may not be current.