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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.