Mobile Retail Trailers, the New Food Trucks of Retail?

retail food trailers

Businesses are going mobile. And that doesn’t just mean they’re using smartphones and tablets to stay in touch. Some businesses are actually taking their whole operations mobile.

You likely already know about the food truck craze. But now there are some retail businesses that are following their lead. Blaine Vossler and Mackenzie Edgerton are two of those mobile entrepreneurs.

The couple started their business, The Local Branch Co., in San Francisco in 2014. The business sells hand-printed apparel and accessories. But the business doesn’t have a traditional storefront. Instead, it sells those handprinted shirts and bags out of a 1979 Airstream trailer.

Edgerton told CNN:

“It was just a random idea. We hadn’t really seen anyone doing mobile retail, but we were inspired by food trucks.”

But now, Vossler and Edgerton aren’t the only ones discovering the versatility and other benefits of running a mobile retail business. Mobile businesses are becoming increasingly popular especially with young business owners who might not have the resources, or even the desire, to open a more traditional retail storefront.

Not only does this type of business model negate some of the costs associated with maintaining a traditional storefront, it also gives business owners the ability to put themselves in prime locations. Whether it’s a busy downtown shopping district, independent art fair or other type of event, a mobile business like The Local Branch Co. can be there. It can, and does, also travel to different cities around the country, something that traditional retail stores obviously can’t do.

And social media provides the opportunity for these mobile businesses to still build loyal followings. Those who want to shop at these mobile businesses on a particular day can simply follow them on Facebook, Twitter or other platforms to see where they’ll be.

Not every type of product necessarily lends itself to being sold out of an old trailer. But this mobile movement at least shows a new way of thinking about running retail businesses. No longer is it necessary to have a static storefront or even to rely solely on eCommerce platforms. A new generation of business owners is finding unique ways to put themselves in prime locations to succeed.

Image: The Local Branch Co.


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.

4 Reactions
  1. I think it is quite similar to those people who sell stuff on their wagons in other countries. Sure, the concept is not that familiar in the US but it is a good type of business provided that they are selling something that the market in the area needs.

  2. I never would have thought of having a retail business in a trailer, but I guess if food trucks can do it why not retail? I imagine you would want to pay really close attention to how you brand your trailer if you were going to go mobile. It would probably pay off to order the trailer from a professional who has done similar things before.