On the outside, it’s just an old school bus painted green—nothing too out of the ordinary against the Twin Cities landscape. Up the steps, however, there isn’t the expected steering wheel and rows of cracked, gray seats. Instead, racks of clothing line the narrow aisles and vintage items hang over the windows.
The Uncommon Loon is a Minneapolis-based store-on-wheels. Since thrift and vintage shops have become the new “in,” owner Abby Rosen wanted to do something different. So she joined a club of roaming entrepreneurs.
Fashion trucks became popular on the east and west coasts in the late ’90s and are now cruising into the Midwest. On the heels of the foodtruck craze, the fashion-on-wheels trend is slowly morphing into a movement. According to FindAFashionTruck.com, there are more than 300 fashion trucks registered in the US.
The trucks stop in different parts of the region, expanding their market to customers who might not normally make the drive to a faraway shop.
“It’s great because you can reach your market directly,” Rosen says. “With the bus you can drive to festivals and go to events, and the people you want to sell to are already there.”
Rosen restocks the truck’s vintage, one-of-a-kind items along the way. “I buy the things we sell at garage sales and estate sales, so I’m always finding new pieces,” she says.
The perks of a fashion truck make up for the lack of space. Stores can follow the demand and don’t have to pay rent at a permanent location. Owners simply post their whereabouts on social media when they’re in a new location, and customers come to check out the new concept.
The mobile aspect can be daunting to new owners, but Rosen says it’s just an added bonus when starting a business. “I’ve never run my own business before so this was great,” she says. “Start-up costs are typically 25 percent of what it would cost for a brick-and-mortar shop. So money is less of an issue.”
So don’t be surprised if a converted ice cream truck turns out to carry clothes instead–buy something new and roll with it.