Rolling Your Way To Profits

Using vending carts to sell everything from hot dogs to handbags has become big business. Here's how to turn your modular merchandising venture into a moneymaking machine.


Now that you’ve hung out your “Open for Business” sign, you’ve got to keep the cash register ringing. Savvy cart vendors rise before dawn to prepare their stock, load their car, truck or van and haul their cart to their daily destination, rain or shine. They get to know their customers by name and often put on a show to attract new clients and keep the current ones coming back for more.

This can be especially difficult given the amount of competition from major restaurants, department stores and other specialty outlets, but there are certain marketing strategies that you can use to keep business rolling your way.

Many vendors offer special promotions, such as the traditional “buy one, get one free” policy. Others use gimmicks, such as dressing in funny costumes or performing mini-sideshows to attract potential buyers. “My employees wear tuxedo-style shirts, which seems to be a big hit with our customers because it says we give service with style,” says Clark. Today, she owns five vending carts–three of which she leases to other vendors–has six employees and earns $100,000-$180,000 annually.

It’s difficult to successfully sell a product from a 12-ft. kiosk when a well-known 35,000-sq.-ft. store that carries the very same item sits right next door. But it’s not impossible. Moore competes with such names as Fashion Fair, Estee Lauder, Clinique and other department store cosmetic lines every day, but she has staying power because of one thing–superb customer service. “! don’t have major capital to advertise, but you can always come to my store and have somebody help you, someone who knows the line and can demonstrate it,” she says. “Then we’ll call you later and ask you how you liked the product. I don’t know many stores that will do that.”

Moore, Clark and the Feltons provide classic examples of how to turn modular merchandising units into sturdy businesses: set your cart or kiosk directly in the line of traffic, one-up the competition with stellar service and put on an attractive face for the public. Once the smiles are in place, you’re all set for success.

Need a cart, supplies or just some advice on how to get started? These resources can help get your rolling.

All A Cart Manufacturing Inc. 700 N. James Rd. Columbus, OH 43219-1840 614-237-3767 800-695-CART

Designs and manufactures multiple-use pushcarts, trailers, cars, trucks and kiosks.

Mobile Merchandising Association (MMA) P.O. Box 54472 Los Angeles, CA 90054 310-967-4416 e-mail:

T’nis organization educates people about the mobile merchandising industry. It also publishes a newsletter and holds an annual vendors’ expo.

Push-Cart International Inc. 621-623 Van Houten Ave. Clifton, NJ 07013 973-773-4401 e-mail:

Considered the “world’s largest push-cart company,” it rents and sells custom-made carts.

The Vending Connection 4303 Blue Ridge Blvd., Suite 543 Kansas City, MO 64133 800-956-8363 or 816-356-1534 e-mail:

Provides a number of starter kits and guides to launch your own vending business. The Vendor Buyers Guide, one of its publications, lists over 1,500 suppliers of beverages, candy, equipment and vending carts.

From Dogs … to Riches: A step-by-Step

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