This is the first article in a 3-part series about choosing the best type of vehicle for your mobile farmers’ market. In this article, we talk about operating a mobile fruit and vegetable truck.
We go over:
- The pros and cons of choosing a truck over a bus or a trailer,
- what situations a truck is best suited for; and
- ideas and tips on how to make the most of your new investment.
Let’s dive in!
First of all, a vehicle is the most important thing you need to consider before you start operating your own mobile market.
Gee, thanks Captain Obvious.
So, how do you decide between the three main types of vehicles for your farmers’ market on wheels? The truck has a lot of advantages over other vehicles, but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
A Bus vs. A Truck
Buses are bigger. And you can fit a lot more fruits and veggies into a bus than a truck or trailer. Plus, you can fit in more people too!
If the weather likes to play hardball where you live, then a bus might be a good choice for you.1 On rainy, cold, or sweltering hot days, customers can shop inside the bus. Some organizations modify their buses for this very reason.
Your customers will have a safe, dry place to shop. Some mobile farmers’ market buses even have room for extras, like a smoothie bar.2 Isn’t that cool?
Ok, that all sounds great, but here comes the flip side.
The not-so-great part of having a bus is that you need to keep the bus running during stops. This is to keep the refrigeration system working properly. But this causes extra pollution and not-to-mention, it’s really noisy.
It could make for an unpleasant shopping experience for anyone standing in line outside.
Some states, like Texas and Colorado, have anti-idling laws.3 So, depending on your location, and your bus’ weight, you might not be allowed to let it run during your stops.
Having the right fruit and veggie truck, means you don’t have to worry about idling at each stop. Our truck design has an awesome cooling system that doesn’t rely on generators or external power. And it keeps up to 1000 lbs of fresh produce ready to go.
With our truck, you’re way less noisy and way more eco-friendly. It definitely makes standing in line a lot better for your customers.
Because a bus is a large commercial vehicle, they need a driver with a special license. Finding someone to drive your bus at a salary to fit your budget could be hard.
Plus, some neighborhoods don’t allow buses because of their weight or size. These could be the very neighborhoods that you need to be able to get to.
You don’t need a special license to drive a mobile farmers’ market truck. It’s like any other truck and can go where buses can’t.
A Trailer vs. A Truck
Some community organizations find that a trailer is the best fit for them.4 Mobile market trailers are smaller and cheaper than buses. Plus they get bonus points for being detachable!
If you’re a smaller organization or have a smaller budget, a trailer might be a good choice for you. It will be just what you need to be able to get to food deserts in your area.
Some trailers can accommodate both indoor and outdoor shopping, which is something to keep in mind. You don’t need a special license to tow one, as long as you take into account your state’s trailer weight restrictions.
In most cases, trailers need to be separately registered and titled from any vehicle. And don’t forget the inspection too.
With a mobile market truck, you only need to worry about one vehicle that will need an inspection, registration, and a title. It’s one less thing to worry about when you have so much on your plate already.
As awesome as it is that trailers are detachable, it’s for that same reason that they can be so hard to handle.
This is especially true for drivers that don’t have a lot of experience with trailers. They’re longer than trucks, which could make for some tricky situations in big cities or cramped neighborhoods.
Bad weather also makes towing a trailer that much harder. You don’t want to start fishtailing on a slippery highway and end up jackknifed.
Have you ever tried to back up a trailer? For most people, it’s not pretty. Who wants to hold up traffic, or waste time doing a 10-point turn to back the trailer up in the right place? Yikes!
This is why you need an experienced, responsible driver if you have a mobile market trailer.
By the way, we’re working on a trailer version of our expertly-designed truck.
It has the same great ideas as our mobile fruit and vegetable truck but on a trailer chassis. Check out a sneak peek here.
Make the Most of Your Mobile Fruit and Vegetable Truck
The goal of most mobile markets is to do as many stops as possible each day. With a well-designed farmers’ market truck like ours, you’re ready to go as soon as you get to your stop. Being super efficient makes it that much easier to serve more people every day.
Most mobile market operators need time to set up & tear down at each location.
There’s the tents, the tables, putting the products out on display. This usually takes about 30 minutes for set up and about the same for tear down.
If this is part of your routine, time can really add up. More time prepping means less time for customers at fewer locations.
Think about where you’re going to park. Is it mostly in parking lots, streets, or alleys? Can you park a big, tall bus or a long trailer there? If parking might be a problem, a truck could be the answer.
Reliability is another factor in making sure that your mobile farmers’ market is sustainable. Buying a new truck instead of a used vehicle could save you money and stress.
You don’t want mechanical problems to be the reason why you didn’t show up at your stops.
You need a dependable vehicle so that your customers know they can count on you. After all, increasing food access to your customers is your number one priority. Can you do that with an old, used vehicle?
Pro Tip: Make Your Vehicle Fun and Approachable
Most people who would benefit from a mobile farmers’ market don’t use it. That’s because of the stigma around using food banks. About 1 in 4 Americans who are eligible for SNAP benefits don’t apply for them.5 They’d rather go into debt, skip bills or go hungry.
Why? Because there’s very little dignity in getting a handout.
That’s why most mobile farmers’ markets don’t just give food away, they accept payment for their products. Even if it’s at wholesale price, that’s ok. At least there’s a transaction happening.
For some, this could mean the difference between choosing healthy foods and not eating at all.
Charging something for your products is also good business practice to ensure your operation remains sustainable.
A brightly-colored graphic design wrapped around your mobile market makes it more fun and inviting for everyone. Using bold-colored fruits and vegetables to catch the eye lets people know what you’re about.6
We design and install the wrap on of our trucks for that very reason.
A welcoming shopping experience is the ticket to lessen the stigma of using a food bank. Bold graphics, friendly staff, and a great selection of fresh produce. Those are important in making your market more approachable for everyone.
Buy the Mobile Fruit & Veggie Truck of Your Dreams – If You’re Into That Sort of Thing
Like you, we’re passionate about increasing food access in food deserts. Serving your community takes a lot of long hours, hard work, and dedication.
You don’t have the time or money to worry about vehicle repairs, finding the right driver, or planning your stops around your vehicle.
We’ve been there too, and we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. That’s how we came up with our best, most accessible truck so far. It serves our needs perfectly and makes us proud. We know it’ll make all the difference in your organization too.
A truck strikes the perfect balance between a bus and a trailer. Our truck combines the best of a farmers’ market display, refrigeration, size, and capacity.
You don’t have to worry about parking, navigating awkward streets, or any special requirements. Just hop onto your new mobile fruit and veggie truck and hit the road.
Go ahead, show off your crisp cukes and juicy strawberries. Our large display area is easily accessible to all your customers. It recreates that farmers’ market-like feel that everyone loves.
Did we mention the sink/countertop area can be customized for food prep and food literacy?7 It’s another great addition to tackling food insecurity and strengthening your community.
Now that you’re ready to buy your dream mobile market truck, download our brochure today.