For many years, food vendors in American cities have been selling food from trucks. Hungry people can find more than just hot dogs or pretzels on these vehicles. Many serve high-quality food from other cultures. Now looking for new clothing is becoming as easy and satisfying as exploring the tasty offerings of food trucks. Kelly Jean Kelly tells us about a new movement: the fashion truck.
Once a month, just after sunset, trucks fill an outdoor parking lot in Los Angeles, California. Some trucks sell all kinds of food products, from sweet ice cream to spicy seafood. Others have clothing or jewelry for sale. These vehicles are known as fashion trucks.
Many people have never seen a fashion truck before. “When you come in, it’s kind of like like going into a closet, you know, and you sift through everything. It’s really cute.”
Janelle Shepard is exploring everything inside the J. D. Luxe fashion truck. The back of the truck is a mini-store. Clothing hangs on one side. Jewelry and purses are on the other side. The store is stylish and looks well organized. There is also a very small room for trying on clothes.
Jordana Fortaleza is one of the store’s owners. “We have a lot of handmade jewelry, handmade clothing, handmade purses.” She says the cost of owning a truck is much lower than making monthly payments for temporary use of store. And there is another reason to use a truck. “You’re able to travel to your demographic.”
In other words, you can take your business to the customers. But Jordana Fortaleza admits there are difficulties. “The biggest challenge is definitely the weather. When it’s cold, it’s cold outside and there’s no one here.”
Another issue is keeping the truck in good condition. When a vehicle breaks down, the repairs can take days. Business stops during the repair work. That is what happened to Stacey Steffe’s fashion truck. So, for now, she is 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 says her 38-year-old truck was the first fashion truck in Los Angeles. That was two years ago. She started the West Coast Mobile Retail Association after more fashion trucks started to appear in the city. Now the group has a nationwide membership of almost fifty trucks.
Stacey Steffe says the weak economy is driving the industry. “A lot of people have gone from brick and mortar to a mobile truck because it’s allowed them to keep their business afloat.” Meagan Rogers is a fashion school graduate. She says owning a fashion truck has enabled her to start earning money while her classmates are still working in unpaid positions.
Fashion trucks are giving Internet businesses some competition. California Fashion Association President Ilse Metchek says impulse purchases were once a big part of in-store sales. Impulse buyers are people who make purchases because of a sudden urge. Now many people make purchases online, where Ms. Metchek says impulse buying is rare.
She says American shoppers may be more compulsive 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.”
And there is a lot to purchase with that loose change. Stacey Steffe says business owners are putting more than just nice stores on wheels. “I don't think it's just about the fashion truck. Basically, any kind of business you can put into brick and mortar is what you can put into a vehicle.”
So, there is a truck that sells flowers, and another that features specialty sportswear. A non-profit group, St. Vincent de Paul, sells used goods from its store on wheels. Such trucks have also attracted the attention of local officials. Ms. Steffe says she is working with the city of San Francisco to create laws to rule the growing industry.