When you're opening a mobile boutique, how do you plan where and how often you'll take your truck on the road? I talked with Ryan Cozens with the Simply Guapa mobile boutique in Denver again about how she manages planning and executing pop-up sales, shows, and road trips for her business.
Do you think about the cost of gas when figuring out where you're going to go next?
No. Not really. I have stayed pretty close to where I store my truck — 4 miles max. I'm starting to look a little bit outside of Denver proper, but nothing too crazy, so I don't get too hung up on the price of gas. Although, my fuel gauge is broken so I have run out of gas at a pop-up before...
How do you approach other businesses about potential partnerships? Do you stick to businesses you know?
I ask! I've tried to be pretty liberal about type of business and neighborhood over my first few months in business. I've wanted to take chances, see where my people are, and what type of venue seems like the best fit with my products. I've tried breweries, coffee shops, brunch spots, ice cream shops, restaurants, cider companies, food truck pods, and juice bars. I have found that small business owners are incredibly warm and welcoming — they get really excited about partnering and at least giving it a go since it's still such a new concept to many. Sometimes I sell nothing and sometimes it's a hit!
When approaching businesses, have you found yourself having to explain what, exactly, a mobile boutique is? Or are you sticking with businesses that already "get it"?
I haven't had to do too much explaining. I think if anything, it's a bit more challenging to explain what exactly I sell. People tend to be more familiar with fashion trucks, so my merchandise is a bit more complex to try and explain so that people can actually envision what I'm talking about. Thank goodness for social media — I usually send them the link to my Instagram account as it's WAY easier to show via photos.
Do you feel like you have to compete for locations with other mobile boutiques?
Never. The mobile boutique community in Denver is incredibly welcoming and I have never felt a lick of competition. There's a ton of support — we all want to collaborate and work together to expand the community of mobile businesses.
What have been the best (most lucrative) locations/markets and what have been the least successful?
I think starting up in the summer has made it impossible to make any good guesses — some of the markets I expected to be amazing have been duds. And on the flip side, some random pop-ups at a brewery or ice cream shop have been some of my best days and I didn't have to pay vendor fees. Typically I'd say the organized events are where I have made the most sales and gotten the best publicity.
I have had a few pop ups with zero sales, particularly when they are in the evening. Because of my day job I don't get out during the week unless it's an evening. Some of my happy hour pop-ups at breweries and bars haven't been so hot.
How have you done at markets? Do you feel you have a leg up over businesses that don't have trucks?
Usually well! I'm really excited for the fall market season as I carry a ton of great gifts options. I'm hopeful the markets are really successful as people start their holiday shopping. I wouldn't say I have a leg up over businesses without trucks. I do think it's a bit easier to set up a truck vs. a tent. I also think having a truck in itself generates buzz outside of the days/times I'm actually open for business. I can't tell you how many people have told me they saw my truck parked on the street outside of my house and started following me on social media because they wanted to check it out. I absolutely love when people finally find me at an event or pop-up and get super excited to tell me they saw my truck parked in Congress Park. It's the most fun!
How have you planned the markets you're going to this year? How far in advance do you plan those?
It's a combo of timing, vendor fees, and learning which ones work for me. I usually try and plan the markets a few months in advance; some of the good ones fill up early and it's easier for me to have markets set so that I can fill in other days with different pop-ups.
Are you planning any road trips?
Not yet! TBD. Anyone have any suggestions?
Did you figure all this out before opening your truck, or did you figure it out once you opened?
A little of both. I definitely did research and chatted with people before I opened, but so much is figuring it out as you go. Adaptability and flexibility is crucial! I'm constantly learning and realizing new things that I then use to make new plans going forward. I don't think there is any way I could have figured some of this stuff out before I opened!
Where are you parking the truck when it's not in use?
I park it in this big lot north of downtown Denver. It has been great, minus the crazy rainy season we had just after I opened....
Do you need to worry about any laws/restrictions in your area, such as permitting, when planning your locations? If not now, does it look like it will be on the horizon?
Nope. We currently don't have any restrictions for mobile boutiques, thank goodness. It's more about being courteous of other small businesses and making sure we're maintaining good relationships with them so we can continue to pop up in certain neighborhoods. I'm not sure what the future holds — as Denver continues to grow I'd imagine this is something that will become more of an issue. Time will tell!