Recently, I stood in a fairly long line that led up to a gleaming Airstream trailer in Austin’s hip, but significantly less touristy, South Congress neighborhood. The line led to the eventual purchase of a $5 cupcake – in my case espresso with peanut butter icing. Drive by that same intersection today and there’s only a chance you will find the trailer. Oh, they’re still selling like, well, cupcakes, but hey cupcake is part of a growing trend of mobilized businesses empowered by social media and the ubiquitous use of mobile devices.
For years street vendors have sold their products on carefully guarded and regulated corners and at events, but the new breed of vendor can go on the move seeking out hot spots based on traffic flow or flash mobs created throughout the day. The fact that anyone on the web can instantly know where they can find their favorite cupcake, pizza slice or tamale opens up countless opportunities for the business able to move and seize it.
While the obvious specialty food players have begun to flourish in this space, I wonder if enough business segments are looking at this model for the potential it may possess. By marrying the mobile device in everyone’s pocket with the ability to communicate location on the move, I think some pretty creative non-traditional street vendor opportunities could crop up. (At the very least they would get you some press)
In a four year old interview with BusinessWeek Lori Kiser-Block, then president of FranChoice, a franchise consulting company based in Eden Prairie, Minn. had this to say “Mobile businesses are one of the fastest-growing sectors of the franchise industry. We work with a lot of successful franchisers that have gone mobile,”
A host of innovative businesses await those who can figure out ways to help out the time starved, chore averse, dual working household.
Think about it:
- The mobile tattoo (or tattoo removal) wagon
- The mobile tax return truck
- The mobile gift-wrapping station
- The mobile legal advice trailer
- The mobile purse and shoe store (a Redwing dealer does this for job sites)
- The mobile flower cart
- The mobile barber shop
- The mobile massage studio
- The mobile newsstand
- The mobile PC tune-up (recycle) salon
- The mobile gym
Is any idea along these lines too far fetched, maybe, but if you’re not thinking mobile and location plays for your business, the future is going to move past you.