Experts say traditional stores want to collaborate with mobile retailers, not compete with them. The trend comes as brick and mortar stores are struggling to get customers excited about
shopping in a struggling economy.
"It's an opportunity to get (customers) into the parking lot and go to the mobile truck and we believe there's overflow traffic that goes right into the store from there," said Mike Gatti, a
senior vice president of the National Retail Federation. "We're not hearing really any complaints about them."
Customers are also drawn to the novel experience and personal attention they get from mobile retailers.
"People love it. You are now back to the social aspect of shopping," said Cohen.
In Portland, Ore., shoppers sift through vintage dresses and men's ties on a tricked out double-decker bus. The Fashion Truck features cute and affordable clothes from its Boston-based trailer. A chevron print shift dress sells for $48.
And it's not just retail. Experts predict consumers will see more industries, including medical and home furnishing, hitting the road.
The Man Cave offers haircuts, shoe shines and neck massages in an air conditioned trailer with high-end cigars and a humidifier. Owner Julia Hutton also runs two other mobile retailers in Phoenix, including Biker, Babes and Beyond LLC and Bling N' Things.
Hutton says a permit costs $35 a year in Cave Creek, a popular area in metro Phoenix, and about $1,000 in nearby Chandler. The Chandler permit requires owners to park in the same spot and doesn't allow them to roam the city.
Her company, ExTreme ReTrailers, also designs custom trailers to look like mini stores on wheels. The trailers include wireless credit card machines, changing rooms and air conditioning.
Trailers start at $10,000 and Hutton has five companies looking to purchase within the month, including a massage business, a pet products retailer and a craft store, she said.
She decided to take her store on the road after struggling to get enough foot traffic at her biker store in northern Arizona.
Hutton says mobile retailers solve a lot of problems for entrepreneurs in a struggling economy.
"They own their own business. They own their own building that the business is in. They own their own billboard. They have a traveling billboard wherever they go."
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