A quick (careful) Google of "Smak Parlour" will return a host of results about this Philadelphia based boutique store. Owners Abby Kessler and Katie Loftus run a very successful store which caters to young fashion trends and is renowned in the area for being stylish and affordable. Kessler and Loftus decided it was time to expand on their little empire and discussed the idea of opening a second store, but with large overheads and long leases, it all seemed a little too risky for the independent store. Their alternative? To take Smak Parlour on tour.
A few minor hiccups with a generator later and the girls were stocked up with their latest collection and ready to sell. The savvy business duo pulled up at various places including University campus's that were nowhere near town centres and quickly took a roaring trade.
Transforming the back of a truck into a mobile boutique haven, Loftus and Kessler worked hard to ensure the fact that it was mobile had no impact on the shopping experience by adding in a dressing room and sky light.
Not only was this a fantastic idea from a marketing perspective (I for one had never heard of Smak Parlour before they took it on the road in the back of a truck) but it also makes perfect financial sense. The women got their second store without having to pay for utility bills, using a generator instead. They reduced costs further because they eradicated the need for multiple sales assistants and they skipped on rent, replacing it with much more affordable parking permits.
We've seen other businesses boom from the back of a truck, just look at the food industry. Skipping the physical restaurant to cash in on the desirable street food and festival vibe instead has proved time and time again to create a sustainable business model for entrepreneurs. If the food is good, the price is reasonable and the truck parks up in an easy to reach location, consumers will flock.
So is the humble truck the future of retail? The evidence is out there to support this being a sustainable method of making an honest and comfortable living. More than this, business owners are not tied to their store, they can take their business around the country and beyond if they wish, capitalising on their "new in town" status as opposed to becoming old news. There is a lot to be said about casting aside the perceived need to lay down roots.
Going on tour isn't just for the rock gods of music anymore. If you want to create a viable business in the retail industry and have the money in the bank to purchase a reliable used truck, the necessary stock and the petrol to get from A to B (and C, D, E...) then you could combine those common dreams of becoming your own boss and travelling. Of course, associated costs don't just stop at the truck and the stock as there will be plenty of other costs to consider, but this could be a genuine entrance into the retail industry for less than you ever thought possible.