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VOL. 129 | NO. 60 | Thursday, March 27, 2014

Group of Retail Trucks Set for Memphis Debut

By Andy Meek

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A group of mobile retail businesses – think food trucks, except with a retail component instead of food – will be launching in Memphis soon, with the debut of each so-called retail truck staggered throughout April and May.

The effort to incubate this mobile retail business model is a result of a partnership between the city of Memphis, alt.consulting and the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team.

It’s called MEMMobile, and it’s a complementary project to similar efforts such as MEMShop and MEMFix pursued by the innovation delivery team, all of which explore creative approaches to invigorate neighborhoods and businesses.

Participating in MEMMobile are five retail trucks.

Four are “fashion trucks,” basically apparel and accessory shops on wheels: Henny Penny, Thigh High Jeans, Sache: T-shirt Truck and K’PreSha: A Haul of Fashion on Wheels.

The last is an extension of the Downtown retailer K’PreSha’s brand.

Henny Penny will sell ladies apparel and accessories, and Thigh High Jeans will “upcycle” denim, whereby they take denim someone might be ready to part with and transform it into something such as a new skirt, a bag or even a new pair of jeans.

Sache’s will be a T-shirt-focused truck, and the fifth business is The Bike Truck, a mobile bike repair and bike accessories business.

“We’d seen this was a successful business model in other areas.”

–Abby Miller
Project manager, Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team

“We knew we had a great amount of food trucks and all this activity around mobile food in the city, but we didn’t see a lot of activity around mobile retail businesses,” said Abby Miller, a project manager with the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team. “We’d seen this was a successful business model in other areas. And especially considering the landscape of Memphis, where things are so spread out, here entrepreneurs can start a business relatively inexpensively and be mobile, be where people are and activate and animate neighborhoods in the process.”

Once all the retail trucks are up and running, MEMMobile organizers want to hold some kind of formal introductory event, with details to come.

One of the trucks will be holding a grand opening soon. The Henny Penny’s grand opening is March 29, when it will be parked outside Theatre Memphis from noon till 4 p.m.

The Henny Penny is being launched by Cyndii Jo Hartley, a hairdresser at Epic Total Salon who will be selling clothes and accessories from a truck that’s roughly 18 feet long by about 7 feet wide and will include a dressing room inside.

She told The Daily News recently that her truck mostly will sell ladies apparel and accessories as well as some jewelry and handbags.

And she hopes to keep everything in the truck priced at $100 or less.

It’s a departure for her, having been “doing hair for 14 years,” but she’s rented her space for several years at Epic, so she has already considered herself self-employed – making this next step feel more natural than it otherwise might.

Hartley has talked about having things such as a chalkboard outside for announcements and messages and an inviting display that woos people inside.

She said she’s also thinking about how she can park it in high-traffic areas that might not otherwise have plentiful retail options.

To help launch all the mobile businesses, the entrepreneurs got forgivable loans granted in partnership by the city and the innovation delivery team and administered by alt.consulting.

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