Summer means it’s truck season! Argentine food, yarn and now apparel are all getting the four-wheels treatment as Happy Boutique Truck gears up to join a number of other mobile businesses launching this summer. (And stay tuned for more!)
Columbus born and bred, Susie Crum has been running some form of her Happy Boutique in Powell, Delaware and Dublin for over a decade.
Running a brick-and-mortar location, “You’re going to have really busy days, and you’re going to have days where people just can’t get there,” Crum says.
Dublin has been a good home but the neighborhood is changing. Lines out the door on the weekend can morph into an empty storefront on a Tuesday afternoon. The boutique supplemented with some events and festivals, but the travel and set up / tear down for each was akin to moving a small apartment.
Crum thought, “There’s got to be a better way.”
A Marshall’s commercial from a few years ago actually spurred the inspiration for Crum to take her business on wheels. She saw the brand’s tourbus runway operation and thought it was a great idea. Why not put everything in a truck?
After sharing the setup with her younger sister in New York, Crum realized that she wasn’t quite reinventing the wheel when her sister revealed that the concept was all over the city. Getting a real-world view of how New York’s mobile retailers were running things from articles and information (and not a large-scale retailer with a runway) helped Crum shape her business.
The apparel, accessories and small homewares the Happy Boutique Truck will offer largely fall under the categories of American made, handmade, recycled or upcycled, and vintage, with a sprinkling of fair trade. Crum aims for a balance of accessible products at a mid-range price-point. She’s meticulously choosing brands based on quality and stocking something unique shoppers can’t find elsewhere.
Happy Boutique Truck will tweak its offerings based on the location to which its headed – more clothing here, more jewelry there, etc. Crum says she will be selective about events, knowing people don’t really want to try on clothes during a hot, crowded outdoor festival. The truck has gotten its feet wet at some smaller community events and is eyeing the Moonlight Market in Downtown Columbus for July and other national outings like the Country Living Fair.
Crum is also getting creative with events. She’s enjoying seeing the growing community of retail trucks in Columbus and is interested in bringing the variety together for a boutique day. Additionally, the Happy Boutique Truck will roll up for private events and shopping happy hours.
Crum is adjusting to going from a shop with four walls to a shop on four wheels.
“Everything has to be able to be put away,” she says.
Just wrapping her head around the fact the whole operation is mobile is an interesting challenge, and leads to careful decision making on every item and fixture in the truck. And there’s the obvious – space. The Happy Boutique Truck trades about 1,000 square feet for 200. Finally, there’s the whole legal aspect – where to park, where to sell. Crum is figuring out the laws, but always has in mind, as a truck owner in New York said, a ticket here or there is still cheaper than rent.