It may seem backwards, but what it costs to start a mobile boutique depends on your budget. You really can get a truck up and running on almost any budget, from $5,000 to $100,000.
In this post, we'll outline some basic budgets and what you can expect to get for what you can afford to pay. In addition, we'll outline what you'll likely have to do yourself on the budget you can afford, and what you can expect to be able to pay others to do for you.
Mobile Boutique Startup Costs
How much does it cost to start a mobile boutique or fashion truck? Anywhere between $10,000 to $100,000 depending mainly on where you plan to purchase your truck and how you plan to accomplish the build-out.
Purchasing the truck
Purchasing your mobile retail unit is the largest expense in launching a mobile boutique. When we conducted our most recent mobile boutique owners survey we learned that the most popular source for purchasing a boutique truck (47.5%) is Craigslist. Most fashion truck entrepreneurs are spending between $5,000 and $15,000 on a used truck. For more details on purchasing your first boutique truck, check out our mobile boutique truck buyer's guide.
After you purchase your mobile boutique vehicle, you'll need to spend additional money on build-out so the truck is retail ready. When we asked truck owners to report what they spent on build-out in our mobile boutique owners survey we learned that around 38% of owners spent between $2,500-5,000 for the full build-out.
You need inventory to launch, and inventory costs money. If you're selling used, vintage or one-of-a-kind items you'll spend a bit less on your initial inventory because you won't need to retain stock in various sizes and in multiples. Be aware that ordering new stock sometimes requires a minimum opening order, so contact your suppliers in advance to find out those requirements.
Insuring the truck
Insuring a mobile boutique truck isn't an easy process, so contact an insurance broker in your area to iron out a plan that doesn't leave any gaps in coverage. Expect to spend between $225-500 per month (or $2,700-6,000 per year) on insurance coverage. You may be required to pay for a year's worth of coverage up front.
Parking or storing your truck
Can you park your boutique truck or trailer on your own property? If not, you'll need to rent storage or parking where you can store the truck during build-out and while you're not driving/vending. Parking/storage can cost between $100-500/month depending on where you're located.
Operating permits & business licesnes
Again, cost for permits and licenses varies widely depending on where you're located, so do research on what permits and licenses you'll need. Depending on the legal landscape in your city, you may also need to hire a lawyer to help you with the processing of permits and licenses in order for you to operate legally.
Typical website startup costs include domain name registration ($15 ish), hosting ($6/month ish), purchasing a template ($50-60 ish), and sometimes paying a website designer/developer ($1,500-3,000 ish).
In addition to a website, consider any marketing costs you'll need to get started, including email marketing (usually free if you have a small list size) and the cost of creating any print materials.
Contractors & personnel
If you plan to hire anyone to help you complete the build-out, assist with initial marketing tasks, help with writing a business plan, etc., include that in your initial startup costs.