Monday, September 27, 2010

A Variant on My Favorite Small Business Idea

Because rent is low or free, I've long advocated selling coffee, soup, gift baskets, scarves, desserts, etc. from carts or trucks placed in high-foot-traffic locations, for example, near a busy train station.

To learn the business, you run the first cart or truck yourself and then, because just one of them is unlikely to generate sufficient income, once you've got one running well, you keep cloning it until you've made as much money as you need. To minimize employee theft, hire your friends or empty nesters to run the subsequent carts/trucks, and treat them well.

The new variation? Gourmet food. How about sandwiches like organic turkey sandwiches with pesto and Danish havarti cheese and heirloom tomatoes on ciabatta bread? Or French crepes--the savories with imported ham and gruyere, the sweet with gourmet chocolate and whipped cream? Or baby lettuce salads with fresh pears, gorgonzola, and candied walnuts?

You can charge $2 to $3 more per item for food that will cost you just pennies more--and you'll be a cut above other fast-food operations, mobile or store-front.


Anonymous said...

I know you love this idea to death, but from what I've seen, too many cities don't like street vendors and throw up tons of obstacles against them. Here in DC, you're not allowed to have more than one cart, and the restrictions just go on from there. New York City has capped street vending licenses for decades, and the licenses fetch six figures on the rare occasions they become available.

Best of luck finding a city with reasonable rules AND enough foot traffic to make the idea workable.

Marty Nemko said...

It's always wise to go far from the madding crowd--I'd check out less cutting edge and less regulated cities. If I were living near DC, I'd be looking at some Republican led cities in Virginia. Richmond, for example?


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