As many of our readers know, the number of mobile food venders – i.e. food carts – has doubled in the last few years. Multnomah County reports that there are approximately 696 licensed mobile vendors in Portland. But the growth hasn’t been just in the food arena. In 2011, we added beer and cocktails carts and a year or so ago, we began seeing others utilize the mobile vending platform to sell items other than food.
In a double decker London bus named Lodekka, Erin Sutherland sets up her dress shop with everything a woman needs and a few things for the boys. The bus, originally located on the corner of N Williams and Failing moved just north next to HUB’s Bike Bar and has a little alcove with Wanderlust, a vintage hunting trailer specializing in vintage clothes and handmade goods. These two enterprising ladies have found a niche on a growing retail and walking corridor and have done it the Portland way by re-utilizing vintage vehicles.
At A la Carts Food Pavilion in southeast Portland, Salon Bucci has setup to offer cuts and color for both men and women. A professionally trained stylist, Lisa Bucci had a salon on Belmont for many years before moving to a cart and opening in May of 2011. Another enterprising stylist, Robyn Carlisle, opened Holiday Hair Style on SE 28th and Ankeny across from The Grilled Cheese Grill in a 1964 Kenskill Rambler where ladies and men can go to chat, relax, get their hair styled and enjoy a sip of wine.
Jason Lee, the owner of Broadway Cigar Company who opened their store in a converted Quonset Hut in northeast Portland, has opened his second location downtown. When I saw the press release, I couldn’t figure out where they were, but found them in a trailer in the US Bank parking garage directly across from the Benson Hotel. The cart, converted to sell cigars but also acts as a smoking lounge, is ingenious. There are a few trucks around town selling discounted tobacco, but I believe this is the first smoking lounge.
There are others who have chosen to go the mobile route for their vending purposes including the mobile tailor and shop Mickle & Mod, a letterpress in a truck that started in Portland and is traveling the nation named Moveable Type and Street Books, a bicycle powered mobile library serving those who live outside. All of these entrepreneurs have something in common – they can move their business when they want or need to. They also are keeping Portland guessing as to where to find the next cool gig. Keep on keeping Portland fun and interesting.